This week West Virginia became the first state in the nation to use Internet voting with blockchain technology in a federal general election, piloting the program for military and other voters living overseas. Despite what officials are calling a successful trial for the app, from Boston-based startup Voatz, Secretary of State Mac Warner has no plans to extend the program to domestic civilians, according to The Washington Post. West Virginia used the Voatz app in a similar limited capacity for the primary election in May. The app works by recording votes on a blockchain, a cryptographic concept popularized with cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin.
Facial recognition technology verifies the voter’s identity by comparing it to a driver’s license or other photo ID, and their vote is recorded on a “chain” containing all the votes cast, where each one is mathematically “proven.” This allows the user to vote from anywhere in the world and verify their vote was recorded as intended, with no potential for human error from an election official counting their vote.
According to a news release Tuesday from Warner’s office, an estimated 144 West Virginia voters stationed in 30 countries cast their ballots with Voatz for the 2018 midterm election. They included active military service members, Peace Corps volunteers and U.S. citizens overseas for other reasons. Of West Virginia’s 55 counties, 24 participated in the test.