The U.S. state of West Virginia has pioneered to give blockchain a chance to empower a voting app designed exclusively for troops serving overseas. Mac Warner, West Virginia's secretary of state, had said that he would consider using the voting app throughout the state if its pilot version worked effectively in both counties.
"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". The app uses facial recognition to confirm the ID is a match to the person in the video, and then the individual can cast their vote.
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. The ballots themselves are sent anonymously and are recorded on the blockchain - nodes should check if the vote is authentic and made through Voatz. 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.
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. However, election officials have left a final decision on its use in November up to each county in the state.
Election security advocates are not reassured, saying that West Virginians who choose to cast their ballots over a phone app will be exposed to risks that their votes could be corrupted.
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In a previous interview with Bitcoin Magazine, Voatz co-founder and CEO Nimit Sawhney said that Voatz has been working to connect disenfranchised citizens and ensuring that the platform remains accessible to all, regardless of geography or socioeconomic status.
CoinDesk previously reported that the state piloted the blockchain app in May for deployed military staff and their dependents from Harrison and Monongalia counties.
Joseph Lorenzo Hall, the chief technologist at the Center for Democracy and Technology, believes "mobile voting is a horrific idea", while Mark Schneider, president of Verified Voting, said "no" when asked if he thought mobile voting was a great idea.
Not everyone however, is supportive of mobile voting.