According to news reports, West Virginia is poised to become the first state in the nation to introduce mobile phone voting for the upcoming midterm elections. West Virginians serving overseas in the military will be the first people in the country to cast federal election ballots using a smartphone app. The move is intended to make voting easier for deployed troops but could have broader implications for the voting public at large.
The voting app is called Voatz and was developed so that anyone using it must register by taking a picture of their government-issued identification, along with a selfie of their face and upload them via the app. Facial recognition software will match the photos and, once registered, voters can cast their ballot using the Voatz app.
As one can imagine, security and integrity anxieties abound in this age of Facebook and Russian election interference. To try and alleviate these concerns, Voatz utilizes block chain technology to anonymize ballots and record them on a public digital ledger. Although block chain has most widely been associated with cryptocurrency, it has broader applications and can be used to make an immutable record of all manner of data.
Voatz was used in a test run in two West Virginia counties during primary season without any adverse incidents or problems arising. Still, state officials will leave a final decision on using the Voatz app in November to each West Virginia county. For now, Voatz will be limited to troops serving abroad, but it appears to be a harbinger of things to come and hopefully yields positive developments towards increasing voter turnout as a whole.
The program is being administered through the office of the West Virginia Secretary of State. For more information about this program, check out the Secretary of State Website at this link or contact that office for more information.