Contest: Challenge MIT/Harvard paper on Blockchain Faults in Election Systems

Contest Proposal: Challenge MIT paper on Blockchain Faults in Election Systems

Contest dates

Submission period: December 25, 2020 00:01 UTC - January 15, 2021 at 23:59 UTC

Voting cycle:

20 days (due to the overlap with the holiday season)

Background and Description

On Nov 6, 2020 a group of MIT and Harvard professors and researchers published this paper called “Going from Bad to Worse: From Internet Voting to Blockchain Voting”:


It is directed at alleged faults of blockchain technology as it is applied for performing voting process and voting audits, but in fact the authors question that anyone can suggest a solution addressing all of the numerous issues in the paper, thus concluding that only paper based process is acceptable and has minimal risks.

They write things like:

"Internet- and blockchain-based voting would greatly increase the risk of undetectable, nation-scale election failures.”

“…given the current state of computer security, any turnout increase derived from with Internet- or blockchain-based voting would come at the cost of losing meaningful assurance that votes have been counted as they were cast, and not undetectably altered or discarded.”

“…blockchains may introduce additional problems for voting systems.”

“What’s more, online voting may not increase turnout”

"The cryptographic and consensus guarantees of blockchains do not prevent potential serious failures.”

Furthermore, one of the referenced documents claims that inability of any internet-based system to allow for fair political elections is an “established science“.

Just like before Nicolaus Copernicus published his De revolutionibus orbium coelestium in 1543, flat Earth was the “established science“.

I think it is time to prove the MIT/Harvard authors wrong.

General requirements - MUST HAVE IN EVERY SUBMISSION:


"Blockchain technology does not solve the fundamental security problems suffered by all electronic voting systems.”

"Electronic, online, and blockchain-based voting systems are more vulnerable to serious failures than available paper-ballot-based alternatives.”

“Adding new technologies to systems may create new potential for attacks.”


“Increasing voter turnout, reducing fraud, or combating disenfranchisement and coercion”


A. Propose an evidence-based elections mechanism based on blockchain technology to allow for:

 (1) ballot secrecy;

 (2) voter privacy;

 (3) assurance the ballot received by the voter is the ballot intended for the        voter;

 (4) software independence;

 (5) voter-verifiable ballots;

 (6) contestability;

 (7) auditing;

 (8) protection against Coercion. (If I have a receipt, I can prove how I voted, therefore confirm to the party attempting to buy my vote.)

B. Address prevention of scalable and undetectable attacks, including system attacks, device security breaches.

C. Provide for End-to-End Verifiable voting (E2E-V).

D. Demonstrate Transparency.

E. Provide Voting Authority ability to confirm authenticity of voting bulletin.

F. Ensure voter identity verification and voter eligibility confirmation.

G. Use of zero-knowledge proofs or another mechanism to allow for individual voter choices secrecy.

H. Address private key security (loss) issues and how to prevent/fix them.

I. Directly address all criticisms of blockchain as a technology in para 3.1, 3.2, 3.3 , 3.4 and 3.5 of the MIT paper.

J. Directly respond and propose solutions to all of the questions in Para 4 of the MIT paper.

K. Read and relate to :

(ii). All of the references in

Evaluation criteria for the jury

  • Sufficiently and convincingly address ALL of the tasks identified above should constitute 20% of the score;
  • Professional language and ethics of writing, including reference links to any quotes used should constitute an additional 10% toward the score;
  • Depth and quality of thinking behind the solutions – 20%;
  • Implementability in reasonable time and cost, including scope of work (see “Follow-up” below) – 40%;
  • Estimated value of implementing such a submission by the Free TON community – 10%.


1st place……………………….….20,000 TONs

2nd place………………………….15,000 TONs

3rd place………….……………….10,000 TONs

4th place……………………………7,000 TONs

5th place……………………………6,000 TONs

6th - 20th place……………………2,500 TONs each


  1. A follow-up contest to audit the work of the winners will be held as a joint effort between Free TON and the Government Blockchain Association (GBA). Winners of that contest will get an additional reward.
  2. The follow-up contest for implementation will have rewards that will be commensurate with the scope of work. To be discussed on the forum after finalization of this contest.
  3. Members of the GBA who perform the audit of solutions will collectively receive 10,000 TON Crystals.
  4. The best response will be shared with the authors of the MIT/Harvard paper and published through the GBA as well as promoted among their widespread global community.
  5. Free TON will of course extend the authors of the MIT paper an opportunity to propose a contest in retort, should they wish to.


  • The juror must have a solid understanding of the described subject in order to provide a score and feedback. If not, the juror should choose to “Abstain”.
  • Jurors or whose team(s) intend to participate in this contest by providing submissions lose their right to vote in this contest.
  • Each juror will vote by rating each submission on a scale of 1 to 10 or can choose to reject it if it does not meet requirements or vote “Abstain” if they feel unqualified to judge.
  • Jurors must provide feedback on submissions or lose their reward.
  • The Jury will reject duplicate, sub-par, incomplete, or inappropriate submissions.
  • The number of days for jury voting is hereby set at 20 days

Jury rewards

An amount equal to 5% of the sum total of all total tokens awarded to contest winners will be distributed among jurors who vote and provide feedback. This percentage will be awarded on the following basis:

  • The percentage of tokens awarded to the jury will be distributed based on the number of votes each juror casts. For example, if one juror votes 20 times and another juror votes 5 times, the juror who votes 20 times will get 4 times more tokens than the juror who votes 5 times.
  • Detailed feedback is mandatory in order to collect any rewards.

Procedural requirements:

Accessibility. All submissions must be accessible for the jury to open and view, so please double-check your submission. If the submission is inaccessible or does not fit the criteria described, jurors may reject the submission.

Timing. Contestants must submit their work before the closing of the filing of applications. If not submitted on time, the submission will not count.

Content. Please submit in PDF format. If all or a portion of the original content cannot be in the form of a PDF, simply submit a PDF with links to that original content. Such links must be to files that cannot be edited after this contest is in the voting phase. If the file links are editable after voting, the jury can reject your submission. This is CRUCIAL!

## Contact.

Each submission must have an identifiable contact that can be matched with your description. If you have not provided a forum description for discussion, then your application should contain links to your online persona, for example, a Telegram ID (preferred) or other direct contact information that can confirm that the submitted work is yours. In the absence of confirmation by the contestant of the authorship of the submitted work, the submission is rejected.

Multiple submissions.

  • Each contestant has the right to provide several submissions if they are all different from one another. If they are too similar, or in any way appear to be partially the same work done twice, or if they appear to be one whole body of work divided into parts to create several submissions, jurors have the right to reject such submissions.
  • If the contestant wants to make an additional submission to replace a previously published submission, the contestant must inform the jury about this fact and indicate which submission is the one to be judged. In this case, only the indicated work will count. If the contestant fails to indicate which submission to judge, only the first submission made will count. The Jury will reject all others.

This is a good one. Good luck!


Respect you! Good Idea!

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It seems that stupid people do not sit at Harvard, and certainly not just because they were lucky.
I think that researching this problem is good. But unambiguously the message should be “check, investigate, find arguments”. But definitely not “prove”.


I think you may be misled and still a bit naive as to the astute nature of Harvard students today. 90% of them are vacuous, brainwashed morons who got their spot thanks to mommy and daddy’s money, and while the actual claim to fame of Harvard’s long esteemed curriculum has been steadfastly replaced with courses on Lesbian Dance Theory and “Gender Studies” as they churn out idiot after idiot on the regular. Well that and the occasional lawyer or politician who encourages those same made up “courses” as magically useful. Take a second look. I wouldn’t send my kids to Harvard if you paid me to.


I think this is an excellent idea. The MIT paper brings up some valid points, but it is completely biased and has funding built into the reason behind even writing it. Given the availability of technology, especially blockchain technology, and beyond that Free TON blockchain technology, the MIT paper essentially reminds me of the 19th Luddites cult (,weaver%20from%20Anstey%2C%20near%20Leicester.) who refused to let textile machinery replace their outdated system of manual labor. We all know who won that battle. This is a repeat of the same old argument between archaic dogmas vs. innovation. Innovation always wins. It doesn’t much matter, because just like the VCR and the audio cassette tape, so too will paper voting one day be left in the relics of history, replaced by technology, whether someone wants that to happen or not. We’re just dealing with the last living dinosaurs who insist that the horse-and-carriage cannot be replaced by another mode of transportation. It’s actually funny to watch.

At any rate, this is a major step toward proving that. I back this contest with both hands and feet. Let’s make it happen. :muscle:


Thank you for your effort in preparation of this contest! It is very important for the future of mass adoption of decentralized backend solutions.


Definitely an important matter. Great proposal.

Fully support the initiative, never knew we have such a diverse mix of resources and talent amongst the community.

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#106 Contest Proposal 0:06edf25391f9bf003546f2332fa22f3aa525c5ae88e3736980c6a1a9c96705ec

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Are there any volume requirements?

All requirements are listed in the Contest.

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Могу ли я писать эссе на русском языке?

Вы можете написать на любом языке, но обязательно с правильным переводом на английский. В случае разночтений английский превалирует и именно его оценивают.

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Коллеги, извините конечно… но нет никаких шансов в заявленных конкурных ограничениях (я про бюджет, сроки конкурса и очень неудачные даты проведения) получить результат, достойный публикации в качестве контрмнения к обозначенной в конкурсе статье.

В сроки конкурса абсолютно невозможно провести исследование, разработать прототип системы и провести его испытание - что на деле бы доказало (возможную!) несостоятельность мнения коллег из MIT. Как максимум, что можно получить в качестве результата текущего конкурса, это околонаучный текст (возможно даже с некоторым количеством проанализированных источников - до 10-15 штук), который будет отражать мнение автора или коллектива авторов - мнение, а не опровержение. Проблема в том, что даже в случае широкомасштабной поддержки этого мнения!!! со стороны Free TON и GBA мы получим ситуацию “мнение1 vs мнение2”. При этом нужно учитывать, что мнение оппонентов представляет в том числе Рон Райвест - на секундочку один из основателей современной криптографии, имеющий ну очень внушительный вес в научном сообществе. Поэтому “сражение на поле оппонентов” с написанием эссе в крайне сжатые сроки - это изначально ложный и провальный путь.
Нужно выходить за границы системы научных абстрактных диспутов и обменов статьями в новую надсистему с созданием и исследованием программного прототипа - это путь перспективный и с шансами на успех. Но, конечно, это будут другие сроки и другие затраты на работу…


Да… Я буду искренне рад ошибиться. И очень надеюсь, что наше комьюнити по результатам этого конкурса подготовит достойный ответ на статью коллег из MIT

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Полностью согласен. Сейчас практически даже нет заявок на участие.
Я думаю, конкурс стоит перенести на неопределенный срок.
Сейчас наиболее важная цель перед нами - не оправдаться перед какими-то там гарвардами, а популяризировать наше сообщество. Надеюсь, вы также рассуждаете

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Да, требования большие, поэтому на выходе получится именно околонаучное эссе в такие то сроки. Читал, читал и не увидел никакой критики в 3.1, 3.2, 3.3 , 3.4 and 3.5… По 4 параграфу - там все проблемы которые были и есть у обычной процедуры почему то предъявляются к блокчейну. А некоторые вообще в стиле если бы да кабы то во рту росли грибы бы. По-моему сей документ от MIT является в некотором роде ангажированным, в интересах тех, кто не хотел бы выборов на блокчейне, так как там подтасовать будет труднее. Видать это проблема не только в России, впрочем уже и так видно судя по новостям в каналах телеграм… Поучаствовать можно все равно не убудет. да думаю тут и не ждут от конкурсантов научной монографии…

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Наверняка, кто-то пишет дипломку и заточил под неё тех задание. Так что, как минимум, одна работа будет.

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Yes, you are likely right about MIT/Harvard engagement with opponents of online voting. US elections in 2020 were so heated that now in my opinion is a perfect timing to start discussions on how they can actually be improved.

This was therefore my intention to seek Community members views on this complex but not entirely unmovable subject.


I agree with your suggestion that ultimately we want better elections everywhere.

However the path to any real change is long and difficult.

This contest was proposed as the first step in promoting fair and secure elections for all.

And yes, let’s extend the deadline by popular demand.

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