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West Virginia prepares to use a blockchain-based mobile app for upcoming elections

The US state of West Virginia has confirmed its plans to use a blockchain-based mobile app to tally the votes of troops serving abroad.

While Sierra Leone might have first grabbed headlines for an apparent (and controversial) ‘blockchain-driven’ election, West Virginia is now preparing to use a blockchain-based mobile app to tally the votes of US troops deployed in foreign territories during midterm elections.

West Virginia has previously used the mobile voting platform in question – dubbed Voatz – as part of a pilot for deployed troops from two counties ahead of primary elections.

Voatz matches a voter’s selfie video to their government ID. Enrolled voters are then able to cast their votes and have their choice recorded on a blockchain.

US Secretary of State Mac Warner said, at the time, that the system would soon be expanded to the state’s 55 counties following the successful conclusion of the pilot.

Warner’s office recently revealed that “four audits of various components of the tool, including its cloud and blockchain infrastructure, revealed no problems.” 

In a statement to the press, Warner quipped 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 clarified, however, that the app will not entirely replace traditional balloting and that troops would still be able to cast paper votes at ballot boxes.

Not all parties have been enthused at the announcement, however. Joseph Lorenzo Hall, the Chief Technologist at the Center for Democracy and Technology, elaborated that the system was merely “…internet voting on people’s horribly secured devices, over our horrible networks, to servers that are very difficult to secure without a physical paper record of the vote.”

Further abroad, The National Election Commission (NEC) of Sierra Leone disputed claims that it had relied on blockchain technology to tally votes earlier this year – saying that “the NEC has not used, and is not using blockchain technology in any part of the electoral process.”