A16z launches an anonymous voting system for Ethereum

Enterprise capital fund Andreessen Horowitz, often known as A16z, has printed a Solidity library that can be utilized for nameless voting on Ethereum. Referred to as “Cicada”, the library prevents a person voter’s selection from being recognized earlier than voting is full. When mixed with zero-knowledge group membership programs resembling Semaphore, it could possibly additionally make a voter’s identification completely unknown, based on a Could 24 weblog submit by Michael Zhu, an engineer at A16z.

We’re happy to announce Cicada: a brand new idea of personal on-chain voting.

Cicada is predicated on time-lock puzzles, a kind of cryptography that enables customers to encrypt secret values ​​that may solely be decrypted after a sure time frame has elapsed, based on Zhu.

These puzzles have been round since 1996. However earlier than 2019, they’d have required customers to disclose their secret values ​​after the time interval had elapsed. In voting programs, this might have brought on issues with customers submitting votes after which getting disconnected, stopping all votes from being counted.

In 2019, cryptographers Giulio Malavolta and Aravind Thyagarajan proposed the idea of “homomorphic” time-lock puzzles. This allowed the puzzles to be added collectively to supply a closing puzzle that was a lot simpler to resolve than the sum of the person puzzles. The ultimate puzzle resolution solely reveals the sum of the person values ​​with out revealing the person values ​​that make up this sum.

In line with A16z’s submit, Cicada makes use of these homomorphic puzzles, permitting votes to be counted even when customers sign off.

In making an attempt to maneuver Malavolta and Thyagarajan’s system onto the blockchain, A16z researchers hit a roadblock in creating a good voting system.: Every selection was to be encoded as a boolean worth of “1” or “0”. This meant that attackers may try to extend your voting energy by incorrectly encoding the vote – by encoding “100” as its worth, for instance.

To resolve this downside, Cicada requires voters to submit a zero-knowledge proof of the validity of the vote together with every vote, the submit says. The take a look at exhibits that the vote has been appropriately encrypted, however with out revealing its content material.

Cicada solely prevents the votes from being recognized whereas the ballot is happening. As soon as the “ballot has been closed” or the lock interval has handed, anybody can decide the content material of a vote by forcing the puzzle to be solved. Nevertheless, A16z instructed that this downside could be solved by combining Cicada with zero-knowledge group membership programs like Semaphore, Semacaulk, or zero-knowledge state proofs. On this case, forcing the puzzle will solely reveal that the vote was forged by an eligible voter, however is not going to reveal the credentials used to show the voter’s eligibility.

For instance, Zhu supplied a hyperlink to a pattern contract produced utilizing Cicada which additionally depends on Semaphore to exhibit voter eligibility.

Voting programs have lengthy been a part of decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs), the governing our bodies that usually handle blockchain purposes. However generally, DAOs use tokens to characterize votes, which implies that particular person customers can have disproportionate affect in the event that they maintain a lot of tokens. For instance, on Could 22, an attacker took management of Twister Money by casting further votes on a malicious proposal, utilizing it to empty all authorities contract funds. Later, the attacker provided to return management to the customers.

Waves founder Sasha Ivanov has argued that DAOs want to maneuver to a extra democratic voting system if governance assaults like these are to be averted.

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