West Viriginia is preparing for its first election where it will allow active duty service members overseas to vote through a smartphone application.
Boston-based Voatz has been piloting its ballot app with smaller non-government elections around the country and in local government elections in the local area. This year, the company had been contracted to facilitate mobile voting procedures for the state of West Virginia.
From late March to late May, Voatz was used to gather votes from two counties for the senate primaries in its first US federal election. The pilot project has gone well and now, the app is set to be used by soldiers around the world who vote in the state to elect a senator.
CNN reports that users have to verify their identities by recording a selfie video as well as uploading a copy of a recognized identification record. The ballots themselves are sent anonymously and are recorded on the blockchain — nodes should check if the vote is authentic and made through Voatz.
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. Furthermore, there are ever-present concerns of foreign interference on voting machines.
But West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner said that voting on the blockchain is a good complement to paper ballots and allows soldiers a more convenient and assured way of getting their choice counted rather than snail mail.
“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,” Warner said.