When the elections roll around this November, US troops who are residents of West Virginia but serving overseas will be able to use a new smartphone app to cast federal election ballots. West Virginia Secretary of State, Mac Warner told CNN that he believes the app is secure after the app was tested in two WV counties during the spring primaries. Voatz’s mobile blockchain voting platform was tested in Harrison and Monongalia counties in the primary election this spring. The initial trial was limited to deployed military, citizens currently eligible for absentee voting under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, as well as their spouses and dependents. According to a statement by Warner’s office, “Four audits of various components of the tool, including its cloud and blockchain infrastructure, revealed no problems.”
The mobile voting platform, call Voatz, uses facial recognition software to ensure that voters match their government-issued identification. According to a statement by Warner’s office, “Four audits of various components of the tool, including its cloud and blockchain infrastructure, revealed no problems.”
However, the app does not come without criticism. Joseph Lorenzo Hall, the chief technologist at the Center for Democracy and Technology, told CNN that “mobile voting is a horrific idea” due to the potential for hacking and voter fraud. His skepticism is echoed by Marian K. Schneider, president of the election integrity watchdog group Verified Voting, who said that mobile voting could create “far more opportunities for hacking and meddling.”
Michael L. Queen, Warner’s deputy chief of staff, told CNN that the mobile voting app must be approved for use by each individual West Virginia county – giving the county the final decision on whether to allow use of the app in the upcoming November elections. He added that overseas troops will be allowed to cast paper ballots if they prefer.