State officials say the West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles is losing voter registrations, but they don’t know how many and for how long. Donald Kersey, general counsel for Secretary of State Mac Warner’s office, said the DMV sends the Secretary of State’s office a daily list of voter registrations, but the secretary’s office estimate several registrations are lost per day because of technical problems at the DMV – “a systematic error,” he said. The problem, Kersey said, has been ongoing at least since the 2018 general election. During a five-day test period in January, 37 people, who were flagged as registering at the DMV, did not have their registration received by the Secretary of State. Kersey, who was previously elections director for the Secretary of State, noted that West Virginia law says the DMV should forward voter registrations to the Secretary of State’s office, which transfers it to county clerks. But he said that during early voting before the 2018 general election, dozens of people said they had registered at local DMVs to vote, but the Secretary of State’s office had no record of it.Full Article: WV Division of Motor Vehicles is losing voter registrations | State & Region | register-herald.com.
Articles about voting issues in West Virginia.
The House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday approved a bill to mandate a runoff for state Supreme Court elections where no candidate earns a clear majority vote. It also OK’d a bill to ensure people unable to leave their homes to vote can receive an emergency absentee ballot. The Supreme Court bill is HB 2008. It says that if no candidate in a Supreme Court election receives more than 40 percent of the vote in the May election, the two highest vote-getters will face off in a runoff in November. If passed by both chambers, it would take effect in time for the 2020 election. It would also apply to special elections occurring after that date.Full Article: WV MetroNews – House committee passes Supreme Court election runoff bill.
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.Full Article: West Virginia Not Planning to Expand Use of Blockchain Voting.
West Virginia’s secretary of state reported last month that more than 100,000 voters — about one in 12 registered voters — had been purged from the rolls prior to the upcoming election. As we documented in a major July report, West Virginia is one of several states that have purged their rolls more aggressively in recent years, raising concerns that eligible voters could be disenfranchised. In order to keep voter rolls accurate, election officials need to periodically remove the names of voters who have died or moved. But purges conducted without sufficient care can lead to the removal of eligible voters. West Virginia’s removals deserve close scrutiny. Some voters in the state have reported problems including being unable to access their records online, and counties reported differing remedies for restoring the registrations of those removed by mistake.Full Article: West Virginia’s Large-Scale Purge Raises Concerns Among Voters.
Bradley Tusk has a plan to fix American democracy. A former high-level staffer for Chuck Schumer and Michael Bloomberg, among others, Tusk has recently been using his political wits to help tech companies sidestep red tape and clear regulatory hurdles. As he recounts in his new book, “The Fixer: My Adventures Saving Startups from Death by Politics,” Tusk has—for better or for worse—convinced authorities across the country to let Uber operate in their cities, figured out how to get the San Jose City Council to allow on-demand home delivery for marijuana, and toppled regulations banning the sale of online homeowners and renters’ insurance. When Uber, the first tech client of his fledgling consulting firm, didn’t have enough cash to pay him, Tusk took half his compensation in equity. As a consequence, he said, “I just got more money than I ever expected to have.” … On its face, voting by phone makes sense. Nearly ninety-five per cent of American adults own mobile phones, and rely on them for all sorts of secure transactions. Using them to cast a ballot would seem to be a natural extension, and one that removes many of the impediments that discourage people from voting, such as inconveniently located polling places, limited hours, and long lines. A survey of 3,649 voting-age Americans in 2016 found that about forty per cent would choose the option of Internet voting if it were offered. (Voting by phone app is a variant of Internet voting, since ballots are transmitted over the Internet.) But implementing a working system is not as simple as it may appear.Full Article: The Campaign for Mobile-Phone Voting Is Getting a Midterm Test | The New Yorker.
West Virginia is about to take a leap of faith in voting technology — but it could put people’s ballots at risk. Next month, it will become the first state to deploy a smartphone app in a general election, allowing hundreds of overseas residents and members of the military stationed abroad to cast their ballots remotely. And the app will rely on blockchain, the same buzzy technology that underpins bitcoin, in yet another Election Day first. “Especially for people who are serving the country, I think we should find ways to make it easier for them to vote without compromising on the security,” said Nimit Sawhney, co-founder of Voatz, the company that created the app of the same name that West Virginia is using. “Right now, they send their ballots by email and fax, and — whatever you may think of our security — that’s totally not a secure way to send back a ballot.” But cybersecurity and election integrity advocates say West Virginia is setting an example of all the things states shouldn’t do when it comes to securing their elections, an already fraught topic given fears that Russian operatives are trying again to tamper with U.S. democracy.Full Article: West Virginia's voting experiment stirs security fears - POLITICO.
Four advocacy groups for elections and cybersecurity called Wednesday for the halt of a pilot project in West Virginia that allows military personnel posted overseas and other U.S. citizens living abroad to cast ballots for the 2018 midtersm using a smartphone app. “Military voters … deserve any help the government can give them to participate in democracy equally with all other citizens. However, in this threat environment, online voting endangers the very democracy the U.S. military is charged with protecting,” the groups said. Proponents argued that with voter turnout so low, technology like the app is worth the risk. The report was issued by the New York-based National Election Defense Coalition, the nonpartisan watchdog group Common Cause, the center-right think tank R Street Institute, and the Technology Policy Committee of the Association for Computing Machinery, a group that says it provides neutral input on issues involving computing technology.Full Article: Critics call for halt of W. Virginia program to vote by app | McClatchy Washington Bureau.
West Virginia: State moves forward with first mobile voting app, despite fears from security experts | TechRepublic
During the 2018 midterms, deployed military personnel from West Virginia will be the first in the nation to vote in a federal election on their smartphones using a blockchain-based app—despite numerous concerns from cybersecurity experts. Concern over voting security in the midterm elections is rising, after the Department of Homeland Security detected Russian hackers targeting voter registration databases in at least 21 states in 2016. While most of the systems were not breached, and there is no evidence that Russian agents were able to manipulate voter data or election results, it’s likely that the cybercriminals were scanning them for vulnerabilities to potentially exploit in the future, the department said. … Cybersecurity experts are less confident in the safety and viability of a system like Voatz. “This is the last thing that people need to be thinking about when it comes to voting right now,” said Joseph Lorenzo Hall, chief technologist at the nonpartisan Center for Democracy and Technology. “There are so many more boring pieces of low-hanging fruit, like two-factor authentication, password management, and defending against phishing attacks. But that’s unfortunately not as exciting to most people as the blockchain voting stuff.”Full Article: West Virginia moves forward with first mobile voting app, despite fears from security experts - TechRepublic.
West Virginia residents living overseas have started casting their ballots this November’s elections using a mobile app that runs on blockchain encryption, state officials announced Monday. The votes that have come in so far are the first general-election ballots in the state’s experiment with a new form of voting technology that has drawn scrutiny from election-security analysts. Overseas voters started using the app for the November elections starting last Friday. The state first used the app, called Voatz, in two of its 55 counties during the May 8 primary election as a potential solution for deployed members of the U.S. military and civilians living abroad to cast ballots back home. Following four different independent audits verifying the votes submitted over the app, Secretary of State Mac Warner offered it to the rest of the state ahead of the Nov. 6 general election.Full Article: Blockchain-enabled voting has started in West Virginia.
West Virginia: Temporary justices dismiss petitions challenging Gov. Justice’s appointments to West Virginia Supreme Court | WV News
Five circuit court judges temporarily appointed to the state’s Supreme Court of Appeals dismissed two petitions Monday morning that challenged whether Gov. Jim Justice was allowed to appoint two prominent Republicans to fill vacancies on the court. The Governor appointed former House Speaker Tim Armstead and current U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins to temporarily fill two vacancies on the court. The two men are also running in the November general election to finish out the rest of those two terms. “What you have to do here today couldn’t be more important, even with the short deadline. Our state is in a constitutional crisis,” said Teresa Toriseva, counsel for one of the petitioners.Full Article: Temporary justices dismiss petitions challenging Gov. Justice's appointments to West Virginia Supreme Court | WV News | wvnews.com.
When Gov. Jim Justice recently appointed two of the most prominent Republicans in the state to fill vacancies on the Supreme Court of Appeals, he might not have expected such a heavy legal fight. But the temporary appointments, and the men hoping to win the seats in the November general election, are facing a legal battle that will kick off Monday morning — in the state’s Supreme Court. Currently, only two elected justices are actively serving on the Supreme Court. Those two are Justices Margaret Workman and Beth Walker, both of whom were impeached by delegates earlier this year. They are currently awaiting the Senate to try their impeachments, which will decide if they should be removed from office.Full Article: West Virginia Supreme Court to hear arguments on election challenge | WV News | wvnews.com.
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.”Full Article: Mobile Blockchain Ballot Trial Raises Voting Security Questions.
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.”Full Article: West Virginia is testing a mobile voting app for the midterms - Vox.
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.Full Article: Technology experts have concerns about WV's mobile voting | WV News | wvnews.com.
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.Full Article: Smartphone voting brings new security concerns | The Daily Swig.
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.Full Article: Voting by Smartphone: - SPIEGEL ONLINE.
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.”Full Article: Smartphone Voting Is Happening, but No One Knows if It's Safe | WIRED.
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.Full Article: Why security experts hate that “blockchain voting” will be used in the midterm elections - MIT Technology Review.
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.Full Article: Experts criticize West Virginia’s plan for smartphone voting | Ars Technica.
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.