West Virginia launched a pilot program in collaboration with in two counties that utilizes blockchain technology back in April of this year. The system is designed through a government sponsored app to grant easier and more secure access to absentee voting for military personnel.
West Virginia has pushed the voting practices towards technology adoption prior to this as well. Military personnel have been able to cast absentee ballots by mail, fax, or email. In order for personnel to cast votes by email, the process requires access to a desktop computer. These services are only available in 5 of the state’s 55 counties. According to Symantec, the firm behind Voatz, only 368,516, or 18% of the 2 million service members and their families serving overseas received ballots in 2016.
The “Secure Military Mobile Voting Solution” was developed in a joint effort between the Office of the Secretary of State of West Virginia, and four non-partisan organizations – Voatz, Tusk/Montgomery Philanthropies, New America and the Blockchain Trust Accelerator. All that is needed is access to an apple or android mobile device. It will grant use of this application only to personnel living in Harrison County or Monongalia County. The benefits are far superior to the addition of email absentee voting, and should see increased use over time.
Now that midterm elections have been completed, the state claims the new system has been successful. In the 2018 midterm elections, 144 military personnel stationed overseas from 24 counties were able to cast their ballots on a mobile, blockchain-based platform called Voatz.
“This is a first-in-the-nation project that allowed uniformed services members and overseas citizens to use a mobile application to cast a ballot secured by blockchain technology.” - Secretary Warren
However secretary Warren notes that they currently have no expectation to extend the service to the general public at this time. Yet, West Virginia ranks 44th out of 50 states in voter participation - only 42.6%.
By: BGN Editorial Staff