West Virginia State is to pioneer a blockchain-based voting application for smartphones, which allows for its military troops serving overseas to vote in the midterm federal election ballots this November.
Whilst the United States still wrestles with the notion that Bitcoin could have played a role in the operations of Russian hackers during the 2016 elections, it appears as though progress is being made on the side of blockchain technology adoption.
We use smartphones perform many practical functions like banking, shopping and navigation, so it was perhaps only a matter of time that smartphones would have the capacity to be a part of governmental procedures.
Voting on the blockchain
There are several companies exploring the potential use of mobile apps as viable voting systems, and some are applying blockchain to the concept, a technology that is popularized by its anonymous, transparent and secure nature.
The project is a partnership between West Virginia state and Boston blockchain startup Voatz. To utilize the app and vote, users will be required to register by taking a photo of their government-issued identification and a video of their face. One uploaded, facial recognition software will verify the photo and video and approve voters.
In March 2018, it was reported that West Virginia Secretary of State Mar Warner was trialing blockchain voting for the Mountain State’s Senate Primary election on 8 May. It was decided that should it prove successful, the state would allow for all 55 counties to participate with this new method in the November 2018 general election.
Upon the conclusion of the pilot, it was reported from Warner’s office that no problems were found after four audits of the software, which included components such as cloud and blockchain infrastructure.
At that time, the pilot was offered to those serving overseas in the military and families within two state counties. This was to remedy the issue of late receipts and lack of voter anonymity caused by “absentee ballots” provided to those serving overseas.
Despite its success, the blockchain voting system will be limited to those serving abroad. Warner said, “There is nobody that deserves the right to vote any more than the guys that are out there, and the women that are out there, putting their lives on the line for us.”
Blockchain and cryptocurrency in politics
There is, however, skepticism. A chief technologist at the Center for Democracy and Technology was quoted by CNN as saying that “mobile voting is a horrific idea”.
Blockchain and cryptocurrencies persist in their boundless potential to penetrate traditions of modern life. Political endeavors in the United States would appear to persist with a love-hate relationship with cryptocurrencies.
Recently, North Carolina denied cryptocurrency campaign donations, a candidate in Wisconsin is going ahead with accepting digital currencies for his campaign despite the controversy surrounding it. A 2020 Presidential election candidate is also accepting multiple cryptocurrencies, a decision that has yet to be met with scrutiny.
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