West Virginia trials blockchain voting app for federal election
Deployed military personnel from Harrison County and Monongalia County are eligible to vote via the app.
The state of West Virginia will become the first in the US to offer blockchain-based mobile voting in a federal election, when deployed military personnel from two counties vote in the upcoming Senate primary election.
In a statement this week, West Virginia’s Secretary of State Mac Warner revealed that currently deployed, registered and qualified military voters from Harrison County and Monongalia County, as well as their spouses and dependents, are able to cast their votes in the upcoming May 8 election via a secure mobile application.
Voting for these individuals was launched March 23 and polls officially close 7:30 p.m. ET May 8, 2018.
“This pilot marks the first time a state has offered blockchain-based mobile voting in a federal election,” according to a statement contained in the white paper detailing the project’s goals and applications.
“Several leading universities, labor unions, state political parties, church groups and non-profits have already piloted this voting platform successfully for their internal elections, convention voting, and other voting functions. Government institutions around the world, including Brazil, Estonia, Denmark, South Korea, and Switzerland are actively pursuing the integration of blockchain technology into their e-governance systems.”
How does it work?
Participants need a compatible Apple or Android mobile device and an approved, validated State or Federal ID. Voters must first submit a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) to their county clerk indicating they would like to receive voting information, either via email or online, download the free mobile app and then vote.
West Virginia’s secure military mobile voting pilot is powered by blockchain technology. The state proffers that the blockchain-based solution adds security, transparency, and trust to the election administration system.
The voting system is a collaboration between the Office of the Secretary of State of West Virginia, mobile-focused voting company Voatz, Tusk/Montgomery Philanthropies, nonprofit think tank New America and the Blockchain Trust Accelerator. The pilot project white paper explains that the application eliminates human error, provides voting anonymity, offers faster results, encourages transparency and is completely auditable.
Plans to expand the blockchain app voting system
This isn’t the first time West Virginia has offered an online voting option for military personnel. In 2010, the state utilized a web-based remote military voting pilot with five counties.
If successful, West Virginia intends to employ the new system in all 55 counties for the 2018 General Election.
Blockchain or distributed ledger technology (DLT) is a digital register that records cryptocurrency transactions. It provides complete transparency and is secure because no-one can tamper with the transaction history. Without the blockchain, digital currencies like bitcoin, Ethereum and Ripple wouldn’t be possible.
In a recent contributing article for The Business Journals, technology trends expert Terry Brock explained how taking advantage of blockchain technology could revolutionize voting and elections.
“I did not realize how many people don’t vote simply because they cannot get to the polls. We think this might be an error, but the reality is that many people who want to vote are not able to,” Brock said.
“Using blockchain technology, we can make sure that those who are voting are who they say they are and are legally allowed to vote… anyone who knows how to use a cell phone can understand the technology.”
Many innovative startups and financial institutions are already leveraging the blockchain for modernization. Global banks are aware that they need to evolve with changing times, and are utilizing blockchain technology.
For example, internet technology company Google is reportedly creating its own blockchain technology to underpin and differentiate its expanding cloud business.
Global messaging startup Telegram plans to launch its own unique blockchain platform and cryptocurrency.
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