West Virginia to pioneer mobile phone voting in midterm elections

Doris Richards
August 9, 2018

Only last month he was the recipient of praise for his efforts to secure the state's voting infrastructure from a senior Department of Homeland Security official, and he's even gone as far as recruiting the National Guard in an attempt to battle election interference. U.S intelligence agencies concluded that in the 2016 election, Russian hackers attempted to hack the voting systems in 21 states, and were successful at accessing voter data in at least one, IL (however, there's so far been no evidence the data was altered or votes were changed). Mobile voting will be limited to troops serving overseas but state officials will be leaving the final decision on using this app in November to each county. The mobile voting platform, Voatz, employes facial recognition software to make sure that each voter matches their government-issued identification.

It is not a replacement for traditional voting methods and troops will still be allowed to cast paper absentee ballots, Warner said.

The ballots will be anonymized and recorded on a public digital ledger that's commonly known as the blockchain. By now, the technology has been limited to trial runs and private elections, such as balloting for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. It will be limited to service personnel living overseas, CNN noted.

Mac Warner commented that "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 they tested the app in two counties during a primary earlier this year and it was successful.

Warner's office said four audits of the technology surfaced no problems but not everyone is convinced of its security. Members of the military will be able to cast their ballots using an app, with voting data recorded on a blockchain.

Not everyone shares his enthusiasm.

While it remains to be seen how the overall adoption will play out in the state, technology experts have already weighed in, with one calling the idea of mobile voting "horrific". Hall described it as Internet voting on people's horribly secured devices, over frightful networks to servers that are very hard to secure without a physical paper record of the vote.

Marian K. Schneider, president of the watchdog group Verified Voting, also rejected the idea, anxious by potential hacks and the lack of a paper trail of the vote.

"There's no way to check people don't have malware in the phones they're using", she said. 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.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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