Blockchain voting could grow beyond West Virginia
Published: February 12, 2019
CybersecurityElectionsGENERAL ASSEMBLY (VIRGINIA)General Government ServicesInformation TechnologyInformation TechnologyInnovationPolicy and LegislationSECRETARY OF STATE, OFFICE OF (WEST VIRGINIA)VIRGINIAWEST VIRGINIA
The company behind the blockchain-encrypted app that was used in West Virginia’s election is looking to expand to other states.
In the 2018 elections, 144 West Virginians living abroad cast their ballots using a blockchain-backed mobile app in a pilot project to test the use of the technology in safeguarding electronic votes. According to the founder and chief executive of the company behind the app, Voatz, other states have expressed interest in the technology for elections. Although the states who have contacted Voatz were not disclosed, one guess is that Virginia may dabble in blockchain, as two bills allowing ballots from deployed military voters to cast electronic ballots were recently introduced. Although the bill is currently awaiting hearing, it makes mention of developing standards for electronic voting, saying “to the fullest extent practicable, these standards and procedures shall incorporate the use of blockchain technology.”
The use of blockchain has drawn criticism from election observers who are wary about its security. In particular for election and voting technology, many advocate that paper ballots are the safest means of collecting votes. West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner however notes that not only did the platform allowed the state’s furthest voters to participate, but that the app sent users digital receipts of their votes and that the results underwent 4 audits, verifying the app’s security.
Indeed, as Warner has noted, blockchain is seeing use in a range of sectors as a means to provide high-tech solutions to problems faced today. Warner has revealed that others are interested in seeing how the use of the technology continues to unfold in West Virginia, and could be worth watching to see if and when other states take a similar approach.