Published: Thu, August 09, 2018
Tech | By

West Virginia to Offer Blockchain Voting for This Year’s Midterm Elections

West Virginia to Offer Blockchain Voting for This Year’s Midterm Elections

Despite our skepticism of applying tech to the electoral process, CNN reports that after limited tests earlier this year (PDF), West Virginia is planning to roll out mobile voting for its midterm elections in November. There's a catch, though. The percentage might be different as of March this year, but given the small number of West Virginians serving overseas, the new voting system will hardly benefit a large number of people. They will be the first residents in the country to cast federal election ballots through a smartphone app.

Blockchain enthusiasts promote distributed ledger technology as a secure way to make voting easier for deployed members of the US military and other Americans living overseas. A recent federal indictment outlined Russia's attempts to hack U.S. voting infrastructure during the 2016 presidential race, and USA intelligence agencies have warned of Russian attempts to interfere with the upcoming midterm election. Those who will use this app to vote will first have to register by taking a photo of their government-issued identification in addition to a selfie-style video of their face which will be uploaded through the app. Once approved, voters will be allowed to cast their ballot on the app. Ballots will then be anonymized and recorded on the blockchain.

Warner told CNN that the effort is not aimed at the replacement of traditional balloting, adding that troops can cast paper ballots if they like. Voatz is one of several companies exploring mobile balloting and recording votes on the blockchain.

But West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner said that voting on the blockchain is a good complement to paper ballots and allows soldiers a more convenient and assured way of getting their choice counted rather than snail mail.

"Mobile voting is a horrific idea", according to Joseph Lorenzo Hall, chief technologist at the Center for Democracy and Technology. Hall described it as Internet voting on people's horribly secured devices, over terrible networks to servers that are very hard to secure without a physical paper record of the vote.

In a previous interview with Bitcoin Magazine, Voatz co-founder and CEO Nimit Sawhney said that Voatz has been working to connect disenfranchised citizens and ensuring that the platform remains accessible to all, regardless of geography or socioeconomic status.

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