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West Virginia to Offer Blockchain Voting Options for Midterms

09 August 2018

There's a catch, though.

According to CNN Tech, West Virginia plans to deploy the app only for troops serving overseas.

But West Virginia election officials have been keen on their embrace of Voatz, which they discovered through an introduction from Tusk Montgomery Philanthropies, a NY venture-capital that invests in cryptocurrency platforms.

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. U.S intelligence agencies concluded that in the 2016 election, Russian hackers attempted to hack the voting systems in 21 states, and were successful at accessing voter data in at least one, IL (however, there's so far been no evidence the data was altered or votes were changed).

Earlier in March, West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner announced the launch of a secure military mobile voting solution for the May 8th Primary Election.

The Voatz mobile app employs facial recognition to match the face of the voter to the person's photo on their government-issued identification. Once approved, voters will be allowed to cast their ballot on the app. Ballots will then be anonymized and recorded on the blockchain.

He also added that the new app wasn't a call to replace traditional balloting and insisted that troops would still be able to "cast paper ballots" at the election. Voatz is one of several companies exploring mobile balloting and recording votes on the blockchain.

Michael L. Queen, Warner's deputy chief of staff, says the final decisions will be left to individual counties on whether they want to use the app for the election.

"Mobile voting is a horrific idea", Joseph Lorenzo Hall, the chief technologist at the Center for Democracy and Technology, told CNN.

While Voatz co-founder and CEO Nimit S. Sawhney sees the state as a springboard to broader use of the voting app, tech experts are not much in favor of mobile voting. The pilot project has gone well and now, the app is set to be used by soldiers around the world who vote in the state to elect a senator.

"It's internet voting on people's horribly secured devices, over our terrible networks, to servers that are very hard to secure without a physical paper record of the vote", Hall said.

West Virginia to Offer Blockchain Voting Options for Midterms