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

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Michael L. Queen, Warner's deputy chief of staff, told CNN that each West Virginia county will have the ultimate decision on whether to use the application in the November elections, adding that troops will be permitted to cast paper ballots if they choose. The blockchain-based app requires users to register by taking a photo of their government-issued ID and a selfie-style video of their face. Once approved, voters can cast their ballot using the Voatz app.

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.

Blockchain technology will be used to record the anonymized ballots. The state is also distributing $6.5 million in federal funds for election-security upgrades, and partnering with its National Guard on election-related cybersecurity, Secretary of State Mac Warner said at the conference.

Voatz, a cybersecurity company based in Boston, Massachusetts, developed the blockchain-based voting software.

So far, the constituency authority of West Virginia is going to limit the use of the mobile app largely to troops serving overseas saying that nobody else deserves the right to vote any more than the people that are out there, and the women that are out there, putting their lives on the line for the sake of the U.S. By now, the technology has been limited to trial runs and private elections, such as balloting for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

State officials have already tested the platform in a couple of counties during the primaries that took place earlier in the year.

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West Virginia will limit the use of Voatz largely to troops serving overseas.

Representatives for the Center for Democracy and Technology as well as watchdog organization Verified Vote are against mobile voting as security on a number of points of exposure can't be guaranteed.

Marian K. Schneider, president of the watchdog group Verified Voting, also rejected the idea, anxious by potential hacks and the lack of a paper trail of the vote. But Voatz co-founder and CEO Nimit S. Sawhney sees the state as a springboard to broader use of the technology.

"There's no way to check people don't have malware in the phones they're using", she said.

Not everyone however, is supportive of mobile voting.

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