Cryptocurrency, Blockchain–Since the earliest inception of cryptocurrency and blockchain one of the primary uses for the technology outside of monetary based transactions has been as a means for secure, digital voting.
While the internet, in its current iteration, has been around for nearly two decades, countries around the globe have failed to devise a way to implement a digital voting system, one that offers a similar level of security and continuity that has been offered through the tried-and-true polling station process. Nowhere has the cry for digital voting been louder than in the United States, as voting rates for citizens continue to stagnate, in particular younger generations that are more adept at finding solutions via the internet and technology in general. Now, citizens of West Virginia will be at the forefront of a new digital voting system, one that combines the immutable security of blockchain with the convenience of a mobile-phone app.
As reported by Slate on Tuesday, the state has begun the process of using a blockchain-based mobile application voting system for absentee ballots to be collected for the upcoming mid-term elections in November, representing a hallmark moment of acceptance for blockchain–and a potential greater appreciation for cryptocurrency.
West Virginia citizens living abroad and overseas have the option of using the application, called Voatz, for voting conducted as of last Friday. While the primary target of the platform has been members of the military stationed outside of the United States, the application allows for voters registered in 24 countries to cast their ballots via the digital process.
West Virginia has previously implemented blockchain-based voting in a pilot program that rolled out in the early part of the year, with a select group of voters being allowed to use the application in March for primary elections that concluded in May. According Marc Warner, the West Virginia Secretary of State, the pilot program was an overwhelming success, demonstrating both security and effectiveness as a voting collection software through four separate audits of the platform.
In an article published by CNN, the news network reported that Warner did not intend for the application to replace traditional ballots, at least not in the short term,
Warner told CNN he is not calling for the replacement of traditional balloting, and said troops can cast paper ballots if they like. But Voatz co-founder and CEO Nimit S. Sawhney sees the state as a springboard to broader use of the technology.
However, not everyone is a proponent of the novel form of voting, despite the revolution it offers in providing greater accessibility and potentially more secure results. In the same interview with CNN, Joseph Lorenzo Hall, chief technologist at the Center for Democracy and Technology called the advent of mobile voting a “horrific idea”, stating,
“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.”
Speaking on the success of last week’s voting via the mobile blockchain app, Tusk Montgomery Philanthropies’s Bradley Tusk claimed that remote voting holds the potential to improve voter turnout, with the end result being, “democracy would work a lot better.”