West Virginia to enable blockchain voting system in 2018 midterm elections

August 09, 2018
Chris Wheal

The US state of West Virginia is to pilot a voting programme that will enable its residents to cast their ballots using a blockchain-enabled app installed on their smartphones.

Overseas troops from West Virginia can send their votes home by blockchain

Secretary of State for West Virginia Mac Warner announced the launch of a secure mobile voting system used by the state’s overseas military personnel for the 8 May primary election, using Apple or Android mobile devices.

Election security

Building on the success of this venture, Boston election technology company Voatz – which ran May’s pilot scheme – has been asked to roll out the system for the November midterm elections.

While the US has put more focus on election security following allegations of Russian meddling during the Presidential ballot in 2016, many believe that a technological solution is not necessarily the answer.

Lorenzo Hall, chief technologist at the Center for Democracy and Technology, interviewed by CNN, said that mobile voting was a “horrific” idea.

“It’s internet voting on people’s horribly secured devices, over our horrible networks, to servers that are very difficult to secure without a physical paper record of the vote,” he said.

Registration

The Voatz app requires a strict registration process that requires voters to submit a photograph of their government issued ID. To vote, they must submit a selfie picture that will be verified against their ID by Voatz’s facial recognition technology.

Voatz and Warner insisted the voting system is safe, but Warner said he was not looking to completely replace the traditional paper ballot and added that even the overseas troops targeted in the scheme can choose to cast their votes by paper.

Post written by Chris Wheal
Chris Wheal is editor of OpenLedger's news and features service. An award-wining business journalists himself, he runs a team of freelance journalists from across the UK and north America.

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