Russia’s Blockchain-based voting system for constitutional amendments has reportedly suffered an attack trough an election observer’s node. The issue was reported by state-owned agency TASS, were it was reported that the incident happened on the 27th of June 8PM CET. The government of Moscow said that the attack did not cause any malfunction and had no effect on the votes cast. The government of Moscow through a representative said that cybersecurity experts have been working on the node extensively. It was, however, not reported whether the node had been secured or not.
The Russian voting process commenced on June 25 and is scheduled to end on June 30th for Nizhniy Novgorod and Moscow residents. The process is based on the Exonum Blockchain platform, developed by Bitfury. The voting process in Russia is very important because the outcome will spell out the fate of current president Vladimir Putin. The whole election is about approving or rejecting new amendments that might see the current president have two more six-year terms as president. If the electorate approve through a vote majority, Putin will stay in power until 2036.
The system has had concerning challenges
The voting process had experienced a system outage at the start before things powered back on. As the process went on, some abnormal results were reported in certain regions. A polling station in Troitsky Administrative Okrug for instance; had 7,300 people registered to vote online despite the population of the area being only 2,358 residents. The local electoral commission explained that as a “technical malfunction” amid many questions. There was also a myriad of challenges when it came to voter experience.
Some voters reported having had the ability to vote more than once due to the system’s poor compatibility with the vote’s offline part. A local journalist, Pavel Lobkov, also reported that he had voted twice; once when the system was offline and again when it came back online. Another case came from Yael Illinsky, a Russian citizen based in Israel. She said that he had been able to vote three times; online via the website, at the Russian embassy in Tel-aviv , and the consulate in Haifa. Her daughter who, is still a minor was able to vote as well according to her. This was possible because the minor’s documents were not checked.
It is not clear how these exposes will affect the election process going forward. What is clear, though, is that if these things are true, the election maybe quite compromised because of clear issues with the integrity of the data. To many around the world, this voting system is a pilot and may set the stage for future Blockchain-based voting systems and elections. The success or failure of the project will decide a lot when it comes to future processes like this.
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