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.”
Halderman, the computer science professor, echoed Stark’s assessment. “The hard part of voting online is … [securing] the client that the user is voting from and making sure it doesn’t have malware on it,” he said. “It could be trying to change the votes or steal the voter’s identity while the person is using the system.”
There are other issues, Halderman continued, like authentication — ensuring that the person who is voting is actually the person he says he is.