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West Virginia to use blockchain based Voatz in its next midterm elections

West Virginia’s troops serving overseas will be able to cast votes without having to travel to their country. They will be able to vote via their phones for the midterm elections scheduled for November. A mobile app will power the voting. While this is good news for West Virginians, it has raised various security concerns.  

Earlier this year, a federal indictment identified that there had been attempts by Russia to hack the U.S. voting infrastructure during the presidential elections of 2016. Following this revelation, several intelligence agencies have cautioned that similar attempts could be made in the upcoming midterm elections.

Despite the warnings, Mac Warner, West Virginia’s Secretary of State has insisted that voting via the mobile app will be secure. Voatz is the Boston company that has developed the mobile app. People using the app will have to upload a selfie-based video along with a photo of their government-issued identity proof. After this, the Voatz app will leverage a facial recognition technology to match the two.

“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,”

– Mac Warner

Voatz will ensure the safety of data by implementing blockchain technology. After being utilised extensively across cryptocurrencies, this distributed ledger technology is getting used for the first time by a country for casting remote federal election ballots. Blockchain is known for its capability to maintain anonymity, and that’s one of the reasons why it has been adopted for voting.

Before announcing the use of Voatz for the November midterm elections, it was tested during the primary election across two counties. Additionally, various components of the app, including the cloud and blockchain infrastructure underwent four audits to reveal that it had no flaws.

Warner also shared that this does not come as a replacement to the traditional paper ballot casting, and instead provides added value to the existing system, as reported by CNN. State officials have left the choice of whether or not the app gets utilised in the hands of individual counties.

“I mean the Voatz response as an example is literally on a WordPress site where everything is posted as admin. As a response to 2016 foreign involvement in election meddling, rushing towards blockchain mobile voting is like running off a cliff to escape a bee,” tweeted Kevin, a cybersecurity expert with 42K Twitter followers.  

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