West Virginia

Articles about voting issues in West Virginia.

West Virginia: Mobile Blockchain Ballot Trial Raises Voting Security Questions | Security Intelligence

Smartphone voting will get a trial run during November’s U.S. elections. As part of a new pilot program, West Virginia has partnered with Voatz, a Boston-based technology startup, to allow some members of the military stationed overseas to cast ballots with devices connected to a blockchain-enabled vote recording system. Security experts have had mixed reactions to the plan, with some saying blockchain technologies aren’t yet ready for important tasks such as voting security. But defenders say the pilot program will allow veterans stationed in remote locations to make their voices heard during the midterm elections — as long as proper security measures are put in place. Joseph Lorenzo Hall, chief technologist at the Center for Democracy and Technology, a digital rights group, believes smartphone voting is too unproven to use during this year’s elections. “I don’t know why everyone’s solution to things lately is ‘rub some blockchain on it,’” he said. “Blockchain voting methods typically mean you are doing internet voting — which is a horrifically bad idea — and committing encrypted ballots to the blockchain.” Read More

West Virginia: West Virginia is testing a mobile voting app for the midterms. What could go wrong? | Vox

On November 6, West Virginians who are serving in the military or living overseas will be able to vote in a brand new way — via an app on their smartphone. But in a climate that’s rife with fear of US election hacking, this new method of voting is raising some questions. …  As mentioned earlier, Voatz relies on blockchain to record the votes. Blockchain, in brief, is a digital ledger that records data — in this case, your vote — but once it’s published, it can’t be canceled or altered. Voatz says its blockchain is “permissioned,” which means you need to be an authenticated user to access it, ostensibly making it more protected. But the problem, according to Philip Stark, a professor of statistics at the University of California Berkeley, is that blockchain does nothing to solve the really difficult problems of voting online. “The one-sentence summary is it’s a scam,” he said of Voatz. “They are not doing what they claim to be doing.” Read More

West Virginia: Technology experts have concerns about West Virginia’s mobile voting | WV News

West Virginia voters who will be overseas during the November general election might qualify to use a new mobile app to cast their vote more easily than traditional absentee ballots. Several computer and technology experts have questioned whether the system will be secure enough during the first federal election after the 2016 Russian hacking. Officials with the Secretary of State’s office say the app is a calculated risk to allow more people to vote. … The mobile app, run by a company called Voatz, uses blockchain technology. That it a distributed ledger technology used to record transactions across many computers so that the record cannot be altered after the fact. The mobile app voting was tested earlier this year in the primary election, and Kersey said its still in a pilot phase. Read More

West Virginia: Smartphone voting brings new security concerns | The Daily Swig

Election turnouts around the world are often dismally poor; meanwhile, consumers are wedded to their smartphones and using them for new applications all the time. One obvious solution is to allow people to vote by phone. Two years ago, indeed, a Consumer Reports survey revealed that a third of Americans reckoned they’d be more likely to vote if they could do it on their phone. And now, following a pilot involving military voters earlier this year, West Virginia is planning to allow voters living overseas to cast their ballot via smartphone in the upcoming mid-term elections. The plan is to use a blockchain-based system from the company Voatz. Read More

West Virginia: Voting by Smartphone: Quick and Easy, Just Not Very Secure | Der Spiegel

A small number of Americans will be able to vote in the midterm elections this November by taking a selfie-style video and downloading an app. West Virginia is the first and only state to test out Voatz, a voting app for smartphones. The experiment, which is largely directed at military personnel serving overseas, will allow the soldiers to cast their votes digitally as an alternative to cumbersome absentee ballots. … Ultimately, no one can say with certainty whether Voatz’s app is secure. Nimit Sawhney’s startup launched the software several years ago, and it went on to win a number of awards. But there is very little proof that it is invulnerable.

• To start with, the infrastructure that Voatz uses cannot be secured — i.e., the voters’ smartphones and the networks used to transfer the data. Marian K. Schneider, president of the U.S. advocacy group Verified Voting, lobbies to make voting in the digital era transparent and secure. She has profound reservations about smartphone voting: “Even putting aside the authentication and verifiability issues, nothing in these systems prevents malware on smartphones, interception in transit or hacking at the recipient server end.” She also thinks it wouldn’t be too difficult to tamper with the identity authentication process. And even a targeted interruption of the connection could be enough to influence an election.
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West Virginia: Smartphone Voting Is Happening, but No One Knows if It’s Safe | WIRED

When news hit this week that West Virginian military members serving abroad will become the first people to vote by phone in a major US election this November, security experts were dismayed. For years, they have warned that all forms of online voting are particularly vulnerable to attacks, and with signs that the midterm elections are already being targeted, they worry this is exactly the wrong time to roll out a new method. Experts who spoke to WIRED doubt that Voatz, the Boston-based startup whose app will run the West Virginia mobile voting, has figured out how to secure online voting when no one else has. At the very least, they are concerned about the lack of transparency. “From what is available publicly about this app, it’s no different from sending voting materials over the internet,” says Marian Schneider, president of the nonpartisan advocacy group Verified Voting. “So that means that all the built-in vulnerability of doing the voting transactions over the internet is present.” Read More

West Virginia: Why security experts hate that “blockchain voting” will be used in the midterm elections | MIT Technology Review

Voting in West Virginia just got a lot more high-tech—and experts focused on election security aren’t happy about it. This fall, the state will become the first in the US to allow some voters to submit their federal general election ballots using a smartphone app, part of a pilot project primarily involving members of the military serving overseas. The decision seems to fly in the face of years of dire warnings about the risks of online voting issued by cybersecurity researchers and advocacy groups focused on election integrity. But even more surprising is how West Virginia officials say they plan to address those risks: by using a blockchain. The project has drawn harsh criticism from election security experts, who argue that as designed, the system does little to fix the problems inherent in online voting. We first heard of the West Virginia pilot in May, when the state tested a mobile app, developed by a startup called Voatz, during primary elections. The test was limited to overseas voters registered in two counties. Now, citing third-party audits of those results, officials plan to offer the option to overseas voters from the whole state. Their argument is that a more convenient and secure way to vote online will increase turnout—and that a blockchain, which can be used to create records that are extremely difficult to tamper with, can protect the process against meddling. Read More

West Virginia: Experts criticize West Virginia’s plan for smartphone voting | Ars Technica

The state of West Virginia is planning to allow overseas voting via smartphone in the 2018 election, and election security experts aren’t happy about it. “Mobile voting is a horrific idea,” said Joe Hall, an election security expert at the Center for Democracy and Technology in an interview with CNN. The West Virginia project is being run by Voatz, a startup with $2 million in venture capital funding. To ensure buzzword-compliance, the Voatz system uses a blockchain in addition to a mobile app. The state did a limited trial run of the technology in West Virginia’s primary election back in May. Military voters from two West Virginia counties were offered the option to vote via their smartphone instead of sending in an absentee ballot via mail, fax, or email. West Virginia’s secretary of state told CNN that the pilot worked well and that the system passed four audits of various parts of the system. So this November, the state is planning to offer the system more broadly to West Virginians deployed overseas. Read More

West Virginia: State to introduce mobile phone voting for midterm elections | CNN

West Virginians serving overseas will be the first in the country to cast federal election ballots using a smartphone app, a move designed to make voting in November’s election easier for troops living abroad. But election integrity and computer security experts expressed alarm at the prospect of voting by phone, and one went so far as to call it “a horrific idea.”
The state’s decision to pioneer mobile voting comes even as the United States grapples with Russian interference in its elections. A recent federal indictment outlined Russia’s attempts to hack US voting infrastructure during the 2016 presidential race, and US intelligence agencies have warned of Russian attempts to interfere with the upcoming midterm election. Still, West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner and Voatz, the Boston company that developed the app, insist it is secure. Anyone using it 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. Not everyone shares his enthusiasm. Read More

West Virginia: Despite Russian Hacking Horror Stories, West Virginia Looks at Blockchain Voting App for Midterms | Crypto Disrupt

United States intelligence agencies have recently warned of possible Russian attempts to interfere with the upcoming midterm elections. Despite these warnings, West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner intends to press ahead with plans to offer West Virginians who are serving overseas in the military with the opportunity to vote via a smartphone app created by Boston company Voatz. … As you can imagine, there are some dissenting voices out there, and one came in the form of Joseph Lorenzo Hall, who is the chief technologist at the Centre for Democracy and Technology who told CNN that “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.” Read More