West Virginia to Use Voatz Blockchain Mobile Voting App For Midterm Elections

West Virginia

Blockchain West Virginia to Become First US State to Allow Blockchain Based Mobile Voting Rick D

Military personnel from the U.S. state of West Virginia serving overseas will be able to vote via a blockchain-based app in the midterm elections in November, CNN reported on Monday.

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.

The facial recognition software used by Voatz will make sure that the photo and video are of the same person. Once the verification step is complete, the voter can then cast his/her ballot directly on the Voatz app.

Voatz is a Boston-based startup that combines internet-based voting with blockchain technology. The ballots themselves are sent anonymously and are recorded on the blockchain - nodes should check if the vote is authentic and made through Voatz.

The service personnel can cast paper ballots if they so desire.

Still, state officials will leave a final decision on using the app in November to each county, Michael L. Queen, Warner's deputy chief of staff, told CNN.

Political Science lecturer at MIT, Charles Stewart III, commented that he doesn't quite believe that blockchain voting via the Voatz app is ready for "prime time", but he believes that West Virginia deserves credit for being "the bold ones" who have stepped up and made the first move.

Warner's office said four audits of the technology surfaced no problems but not everyone is convinced of its security.

Voatz co-founder Nimit Sawhney told StateScoop earlier this year his company's app will not function if it detects malware on a device.

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

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

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

November will provide just such a test. Supporters and skeptics of mobile voting will be watching closely.

Latest News