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

West Virginia

West Virginia is set to debut a blockchain-based voting platform for the upcoming November midterm elections in the United States. The move will allow troops overseas to participate in the polls.

While the idea is novel in many respects and a revolutionary application of blockchain technology, some people question the integrity of the process given the recent Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. Presidential elections.

Voatz Blockchain Voting Platform

Voatz is a pioneer in the blockchain voting and mobile balloting niche. The Boston-based company is set to partner with the state of West Virginia to use its legacy app in the upcoming Federal elections in November.

The Voatz mobile app employs facial recognition to match the face of the voter to the person’s photo on their government-issued identification. To use the app, the voter must take a “selfie-style” photograph which the platform uses for the verification process. Once the verification step is complete, the voter can then cast his/her ballot directly on the Voatz app. The votes cast on the platform are anonymized and recorded on the blockchain.

Details of the Plan

According to CNN Tech, West Virginia plans to deploy the app only for troops serving abroad. Commenting on the plan, Mac Warner, the West Virginia Secretary of State said:

“There is nobody that deserves the right to vote any more than the guys that are out there, and the women that are out there, putting their lives on the line for us.”

State officials have already tested the platform in a couple of counties during the primaries that took place earlier in the year. According to Warner, there have been extensive audits of the platform, and so far, no issues have been pointed out.

Electronic Voting is a Horrific Idea

Not everyone shares Warner’s enthusiasm. The Chief Technologist at the Center for Democracy and Technology Joseph L. Hall wrote in an email to CNN:

“Mobile voting is a horrific idea. It’s internet voting on people’s horribly secured devices, over our horrible networks, to servers that are very difficult 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. However, the decision hasn’t been finalized yet, and each county will have the right to accept or refuse the platform.

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