Tuesday, 23 October, 2018

West Virginia Set to Debut Blockchain Voting in Upcoming U.S. Midterms

West Virginia will try mobile voting for troops serving abroad West Virginia to pioneer mobile phone voting in midterm elections
Katie Ramirez | 09 August, 2018, 20:45

Military personnel from the USA 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.

"All the risks and vulnerabilities present in other internet transactions will be present", Marian Schneider, president of Verified Voting, told StateScoop Tuesday.

One of the stated reasons for using the app is to make it easier for military personnel working overseas to cast their votes in the upcoming midterm elections.

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. The app, as demonstrated to StateScoop, uses text messages and facial recognition to authenticate users before they're presented their ballots. The West Virginia figures do not include overseas troops, yet as per data by Pew Research Center, the USA troops deployed abroad in 2016 amounted to 15% of the active duty personnel.

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It's a limited pilot program, and the West Virginia secretary of State who is promoting it, Mac Warner, is smart to try it out on a category of voters hard to mess with. Upon approval, voters can then cast their vote. The office will now bring the voting app to UOCAVA (Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act) voters in the state's 55 counties.

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.

"There's no way to check people don't have malware in the phones they're using", she said. But Voatz co-founder and CEO Nimit S. Sawhney sees the state as a springboard to broader use of the technology.

The blockchain-based mobile app will enable the US military staff living outside the country to vote in November midterms, thus bypassing mailed absentee ballots. Clerks from almost all 55 of the state's counties gathered last month at a Morgantown hotel for a two-day cybersecurity training conference. Only last month he was the recipient of praise for his efforts to secure the state's voting infrastructure from a senior Department of Homeland Security official, and he's even gone as far as recruiting the National Guard in an attempt to battle election interference.

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