The city of Denver will allow thousands of voters to cast their ballots with a smartphone application this year. The pilot program is one of the first U.S. deployments of a phone-based voting system for public elections — but it will only be available to military members and voters living in other countries. The city has invited all of its international voters — about 4,000 people — to use the app in the May 2019 election. The idea of digital voting has been met with skepticism from some elections security experts, but Denver officials say it could make life easier for a limited set of voters. “This pilot enables us to offer that convenience for our military and overseas citizens who have the most difficult time voting and participating in the democratic process here at home,” said Deputy Elections Director Jocelyn Bucaro.Full Article: Smartphone voting coming to Denver in May election.
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.
Let’s get the fish in the barrel out of the way. Voatz are a tech startup whose bright idea was to disrupt democracy by having people vote on their phone, and store the votes on, you guessed it, a blockchain. Does this sound like a bad idea? Welp. It turned out that they seemed awfully casual about basic principles of software security, such as not hard-coding your AWS credentials. It turned out that their blockchain was an eight-node Hyperledger install, i.e. one phenomenologically not especially distinguishable from databases secured by passwords. They have been widely and justly chastised for these things. But they aren’t what’s important.Full Article: Voatz: a tale of a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad idea | TechCrunch.