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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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