A “FinTech” Approach To Election Technology

A “FinTech” Approach To Election Technology

If state election commissions and state legislatures would have adopted voting technology platforms that mimic the Trade Order Management/ Execution Management financial technology systems available on the market today, much of the drama around the 2020 General Election could have been avoided.

Many electronic voting systems lack full auditability and therefore leave themselves exposed to election fraud claims. If one considers the life cycle of a securities trade, there are a number of fail safes during the pre-trade, trade execution and post-trade processes that ensure the integrity of a given trade. Electronic voting systems lack similar fail safes.

There are two processes in particular that electronic voting systems could adopt which would do much to support the integrity of elections.

  • First, authenticate voters. Much like buyers and sellers of securities are authenticated prior to engaging in securities trading, voters need to be authenticated prior to voting. At present many states do not require proof of identification at the voting booth nor for mail-in ballots. Some technologists have advocated moving elections to Blockchain networks in part to strengthen the voter authentication process. Whichever technology platform states adopt for voter authentication, it needs to be secure. Once authenticated, no third party should be able to modify a voter’s authenticated profile.
  • Second, voters should receive a physical and/or electronic confirmation of their vote. This electronic confirmation should be an image file of the voter’s ballot. The system that generates that confirmation ought to utilize the same ballot data fields to generate real-time, fully auditable vote totals. This raw data may only be accessed by approved individuals with special administrative provisions. This is another reason why many people advocate Blockchain networks as it is impossible to change a record on the Blockchain without there being a record of that change. The possibility of wiping servers or altering data records without an audit trail would be eliminated.

Ideally one would want each of the 50 states to use the same electronic voting platform to capture the benefits of standardization. The electronic data standards one finds in securities trading and in credit card transaction processing make it easier to perform fraud detection as compared to the insurance industry where claims data fields lack standardization across carriers, making it easier for nefarious actors to commit fraud. The same principle holds true concerning the heterogeneous vote execution process which varies by state. That said, we are not advocating that the U.S. move to an all electronic, nationally centralized election process. To do so would be to remove power from the states and award it to the Federal government.

Ultimately it is easy to imagine the U.S. moving to an all electronic General Election format where the election is administered at the national level. My best guess is that any forthcoming national electronic voting platform will collect voter registration/ authentication data that is far more granular than what is collected today. That granular PII data will be used by each political party to inform their election campaign marketing efforts.