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.”

Blockchain Is Well-Positioned to Help the Unbanked, OKEx Executive Says

Lennix Lai, OKEx’s Financial Markets Director, has recently made two presentations in Davos, where the 50th World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting is taking place, to spread the word about blockchain technology.

In his two presentations – made at the Russia House 2020 and EmTech Investment Meeting 2020 events – Lai argued that even though there are highly developed countries throughout the world, over 2 billion people are still being excluded from the traditional financial services over the operational costs associated with setting up branches in underdeveloped areas.

Lai noted that “unbankedness” is one of the “biggest hurdles in human wellbeing” and a great opportunity for the blockchain and fintech sector to make a difference in the world by helping those left behind by the traditional financial sector get access to financial services that could boost their living standards. At Russia House 2020, Lai said:

Blockchain and cryptocurrencies appear to be a solution to the problem by providing a digital, decentralized financial system that can work mutually-beneficially with traditional markets to substantially lower the operational costs and serve the areas traditional banking cannot cover.

Lai added that OKEx is committed to “bringing a robust and trustable environment to cater to crypto users.” The cryptocurrency exchange, he added at the EmTech Investment Meeting 2020 talk, sees global regulators a start endorsing the space in the future, and the volatility of BTC dropping.

This would make the flagship cryptocurrency a favorable alternative asset for mainstream finance. He also mentioned the growing decentralized finance space, which “reflects that people are starting to brace a free, open, permission-less financial system.”

The options, futures and spot markets OKEx offers, Lai said, let cryptocurrency users manage the price fluctuations in the space, and 2020 will see the exchange continue its efforts on stablecoins, its OKEx wallet, and derivatives products.

He concluded his presentation at the EmTech Investment Meeting 2020 saying OKEx believes “blockchain can achieve an inclusive sustainable development as well as financial inclusion for all, banked and unbanked.”

Featured image via Unsplash.