West Virginia to Offer Blockchain Voting Statewide in November Elections

Cast yer digital votes

West Virginia is rolling out a blockchain based mobile voting app so American troops overseas can cast their votes in the upcoming elections, CNN reports.

The West Virginia Secretary of State, Mac Warner, and Voatz, the Boston-based app developer, told CNN that they believe the app is secure after successful tests in two counties for the state's spring primary elections.

Following a pilot earlier this year, the state of West Virginia will become the first jurisdiction to allow its citizens serving in the armed forces overseas to vote using a smart phone application. As for how it works, users are advised to capture a photo of their government-issued ID and a selfie video of their face to ensure that the details being fed are accurate. The app then uses facial recognition technology to make sure the registered voter is, in fact, the same person casting their ballot. Following this verification, voters would be able to cast their ballot using the Voatz app. Voatz is one of several companies exploring mobile balloting and recording votes on the blockchain. West Virginia will reportedly limit the use of the voting app largely to troops serving overseas. This isn't meant to replace traditional balloting and troops will be able to cast paper ballots instead if they so prefer.

From late March to late May, Voatz was used to gather votes from two counties for the senate primaries in its first USA federal election. Each county within the state will though make the final decision whether to use the app. Warner's office said four audits of various components of the tool, including its cloud and blockchain infrastructure, revealed no problems.

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The software underlying the app was developed by technology startup Voatz that has recently received about $2.4 million in funding.

"It's internet voting on people's horribly secured devices, over our awful networks, to servers that are very hard to secure without a physical paper record of the vote", Joseph Lorenzo Hall, the chief technologist at the Center for Democracy and Technology, told CNN. "It's internet voting on people's horribly secured devices, over our 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.

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