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West Virginia to pioneer mobile phone voting in midterm elections

09 August, 2018, 20:44 | Author: Rafael Roberts
  • West Virginia to Offer Blockchain Voting Options for Midterms

The percentage might be different as of March this year, but given the small number of West Virginians serving overseas, the new voting system will hardly benefit a large number of people.

Marian K. Schneider, president of the election integrity watchdog group Verified Voting, was even more blunt. This isn't meant to replace traditional balloting and troops will be able to cast paper ballots instead if they so prefer.

Boston-based Voatz has been piloting its ballot app with smaller non-government elections around the country and in local government elections in the local area.

Blockchain enthusiasts promote distributed ledger technology as a secure way to make voting easier for deployed members of the USA military and other Americans living overseas.

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.


Michael L. Queen, Warner's deputy chief of staff, said that each West Virginia county will have the final decision on whether to use the app in the November elections, adding that troops will be allowed to cast paper ballots if they choose. Upon approval, voters can then cast their vote. The trial was limited to deployed military members, residents eligible to vote absentee under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, and their spouses and dependents.

Schneider also questioned Voatz's security claims, saying "there's no way" for outside analysts to tell if the app works properly.

While the idea of creating a blockchain-based voting app seems to have rose due to Russia's interference in the 2016 U.S Elections, many do not seem thrilled about the idea. Asked if she thought mobile voting is a good idea, she said, "The short answer is no".

While Voatz co-founder and CEO Nimit S. Sawhney sees the state as a springboard to broader use of the voting app, tech experts are not much in favor of mobile voting. Clerks from almost all 55 of the state's counties gathered last month at a Morgantown hotel for a two-day cybersecurity training conference.

If voting via mobile app can be pulled off effectively, this could be a great thing for prompting user engagement and lowering barriers that might otherwise stop people casting their ballot.

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