The state of West Virginia is going to provide troops serving abroad with a mobile voting app for the midterm elections.
The survey made by the world-known consulting agency KPMG revealed a large increase in blockchain business spending observing over the first half of the year, while the lion share of reported boost went to the U.S. According to the research, investment in US-based fintech companies grew up to $14.2 billion in Q1 and Q2 of 2018 pushing the U.S. at the forefront of blockchain revolution.
Indeed, despite the onslaught of criticism came down on blockchain industry, the U.S. investors seem to keep their commitment to ubiquitous expansion of the cutting-edge technology. It is know that once applied blockchain is able to dramatically change every facet of life, yet the effectiveness of these changes became a subject for numerous debates.
Encrypted data along with high transparency made blockchain very attractive to political matters and the electoral process in particular, since it usually requires advanced levels of security and privacy. The U.S. state of West Virginia has pioneered to give blockchain a chance to empower a voting app designed exclusively for troops serving abroad.
The blockchain-based mobile app will enable the U.S. military staff living outside the country to vote in November midterms, thus bypassing mailed absentee ballots. So far, the constituency authority of West Virginia is going to limit the use of the mobile app largely to troops serving abroad saying that nobody else deserves the right to vote any more than the people that are out there, and the women that are out there, putting their lives on the line for the sake of the U.S.
The software underlying the app was developed by technology startup Voatz that has recently received about $2.4 million in funding. Voatz is one of several companies exploring mobile balloting and recording votes on 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.
Anyone using the app must first register by taking a photo of their government-issued identification and a selfie-style video of their face, then upload them via the app. Voatz says its facial recognition software will ensure the photo and video show the same person. Once approved, voters can cast their ballot using the Voatz app.
Officials tested Voatz in two counties during the primary election earlier this year with financial backing from Tusk Montgomery Philanthropies. Secretary of State Mac Warner said four audits of various components of the tool, including its cloud and blockchain infrastructure, revealed no problems.
Nevertheless, there are some concerns raised about the technology. Previously the United States has alleged Russia’s attempts to hack the U.S. voting infrastructure during the 2016 presidential race, and US intelligence agencies have warned of Russian interference into the upcoming midterm election.
Therefore, an incorporation of such an innovative electoral approach at these times might seem risky for a vast majority, especially being fueled by the latest hackers’ attacks taken place in the industry.
The chief technologist at the Center for Democracy and Technology, Joseph Lorenzo Hall does not share the blockchain enthusiasm, saying:
“Mobile voting is a horrific idea. It’s 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.”
Notably, the state officials will leave a final decision on using the app in November to each county, in the meanwhile Warner stressed that he is not calling for the replacement of traditional balloting, and said troops can cast paper ballots if they like. But Voatz co-founder and CEO Nimit S. Sawhney sees the state as a springboard to broader use of the technology.