West Virginia Offers Mobile Voting for Troops Abroad This November

Virginia Primary Election

The Federal Voting Assistance Program, a Pentagon initiative aimed at helping deployed troops and civilian expats send ballots back home, estimated that only 4 percent of 2.6 million eligible overseas voters participated in the 2014 midterm election, including 334 West Virginians.

To use the app, voters will have to submit a photo of their government issued ID, as well as, um, a selfie video.

Troops will still be able to cast paper ballots if they prefer. The votes cast on the platform are anonymized and recorded on the blockchain. Although that technology is most often associated with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, it can be used to record all manner of data.

Voatz, a cybersecurity company based in Boston, Massachusetts, developed the blockchain-based voting software.

"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".

Now, according to CNN, Warner's office claims that a round of four audits of the application's blockchain infrastructure was completed following the pilot phase and "revealed no problems". However, election officials have left a final decision on its use in November up to each county in the state.

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The digital voting process will serve as an alternative to traditional mailed absentee ballots.

Voatz co-founder Nimit Sawhney told StateScoop earlier this year his company's app will not function if it detects malware on a device.

Not everyone shares Warner's enthusiasm.

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. Hall described it as Internet voting on people's horribly secured devices, over terrible networks to servers that are very hard to secure without a physical paper record of the vote.

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. She also worries about the lack of a paper trail for electronic votes. Like Hall, Schneider expressed concern that changes to a ballot could occur during transit.

United States intelligence agencies have recently warned of possible Russian attempts to interfere with the upcoming midterm elections.

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