US West Virginia State Offers Blockchain Voting to Overseas Troops

West Virginia

In May of this year, West Virginia became the first state in the U.S. to pilot a blockchain-based smartphone voting app for USA troops serving overseas and their dependents from Harrison and Monongalia counties. While both the Boston-based development company behind the app and West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner insist the app is secure, others have voiced their worries.

So far, the constituency authority of West Virginia is going to limit the use of the mobile app largely to troops serving overseas saying that nobody else deserves the right to vote any more than the people that are out there, and the women that are out there, putting their lives on the line for the sake of the U.S.

Earlier this year, state officials ran a pilot of the Voatz mobile app for deployed troops and their dependents in Harrison and Monongalia counties and found the results to be satisfactory.

The mobile voting platform, Voatz, will use facial recognition software to match each user's "selfie-style video of their face" to their government-issued ID, according to a CNN report. They can only cast their ballot once the information is uploaded and approved.

The ballots will be anonymized and recorded on a public digital ledger that's commonly known as the blockchain. The rollout will limit the use of the Voatz app to troops serving overseas.

Even if the Voatz app is secure - something Schneider said she could not confirm because her organization has not vetted it - the "attack area is much broader" under mobile voting, meaning it creates far more opportunities for hacking and meddling. However, election officials have left a final decision on its use in November up to each county in the state.

While critics have been vocal in their condemnation of the technology, West Virginia seems intent on trying out the plan.

While it remains to be seen how the overall adoption will play out in the state, technology experts have already weighed in, with one calling the idea of mobile voting "horrific".

"There is something to be said sometimes for small-scale pilots where we can learn the trade-offs", he remarked.

From late March to late May, Voatz was used to gather votes from two counties for the senate primaries in its first United States federal election.

Do you like the idea of voting via mobile app?

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