Category Archives: Blockchain voting

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US Overseas Military Personnel to Vote via Blockchain Mobile App

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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West Virginia Pilots Blockchain Voting as System Grows in Popularity

West Virginia Secretary of State, Mac Warner, has announced that blockchain voting will be trialled in the upcoming election for West Virginia’s Senate primary election on May 8th.  If the pilot is successful, the state government plans to extend the new voting method to all 55 counties in the 2018 general election in November.

The pilot is currently being offered to deployed military personnel and families in two state counties.  Previously, absentee ballots offered to overseas services personnel had encountered problems with late receipts and lack of voter anonymity.

Global interest

Blockchain voting is becoming increasingly popular since its first use in Estonian elections which has had electronic voting since 2005 and in 2007 was the first country worldwide to allow online voting. In fact, in the 2015 parliamentary election, 30.5% of all votes cast were through Estonia’s i-voting systems. The country can now boast that it’s probably the only nation worldwide where 99% of public services are available online, noting that one is expected to leave the house for marriage and divorce.

In a 2016 Columbian Peace plebiscite, expat nationals tested the potential of blockchain technology in their own electoral process. This was perfected by utilizing digital innovation so that voters could approve a peace treaty, devised by the tech non-profit Democracy Earth Foundation.

In Australia, attempts to create an incontrovertible and auditable record of every vote cast in elections through blockchain-based electronic voting is on the drawing board. Companies such as SecureVote have developed an online smartphone system where users can poll and vote on party positions. The Australian government indicated that paper was here to stay until legislation could be passed.

There is still research and development needed in order to make such changes to voting systems around the globe. India with its 800 million voters would require a system that can easily handle such numbers. Tech Radar commented that in our connected society it makes little sense not to employ blockchain technology in the future if only to eliminate rigged elections and fraud, citing voting as one of the “10 sectors that blockchain will disrupt forever”.

 

 

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