Statewide Blockchain-Based Voting To Be Offered For West Virginia’s November Elections

  • The U.S. state of West Virginia will introduce blockchain-based voting for its midterm elections in November.
  • Military personnel working abroad may cast their votes using a blockchain-powered mobile voting app.

The U.S. state of West Virginia will reportedly be introducing a blockchain-powered mobile voting app in all of its 55 counties.

One of the stated reasons for using the app is to make it easier for military personnel working abroad to cast their votes in the upcoming midterm elections.

In May, West Virginia had launched a beta version of the blockchain-based voting app for military officers and their families in Monongalia and Harrison counties. 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.

Encrypted Blockchain-Based Voting System

During its pilot phase, the application’s software went through four different audits, including testing of its blockchain infrastructure. Based on the results of the examination, Warner’s office said that no problems were found in the voting app.

Voatz, a cybersecurity company based in Boston, Massachusetts, developed the blockchain-based voting software. Commenting on the security of the voting app, the tech firm said that voter information and ballot data are encrypted and stored on a decentralized network. This, the company says helps ensure the integrity of the voting data.

Michael Queen, a public education advocate and Warner’s deputy chief of staff, noted that West Virginia’s election administration office will let each county independently decide whether they want to use the voting app for the midterm elections in November.

Not everyone however, is supportive of mobile voting.

Joseph Lorenzo Hall, chief technologist at Center for Democracy and Technology, said that it was “a horrible idea.” In an email to CNN, Lorenzo argued that,

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.

Mobile Voting Is Vulnerable To Hackers

Meanwhile, Marian K. Schneider, president of Verified Voting, was also quite skeptical of the idea of casting votes using a smartphone. She explained that the “attack area is much broader” when using a mobile-based voting system because they can be hacked.

Schneider expressed concerns about the absence of a paper trail as well, when votes are registered electronically. She further noted that voting data could potentially be corrupted due to “Undetectable changes that could occur in transit.”