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West Virginia taps blockchain technology for mid-term elections

West Virginian military personnel located overseas would be able to cast their ballots in the midterm federal election, thanks to a blockchain-based smartphone app.

In a report dated August 6th, CNN stated that the app has been developed by a Boston-based company, Voatz.

The process involves registering on the app, which will require users to take a photo of their government-ID and a selfie-style video of their face, and upload them via the app. Using its facial recognition software, Voatz will ensure that the photo and video are of the same person. Following this verification, voters would be able to cast their ballot using the Voatz app.

Blockchain technology will be used to record the anonymized ballots.

Earlier in March, West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner announced the launch of a secure military mobile voting solution for the May 8th Primary Election.

Writing for CNN in May, Emily Parker, co-founder of LongHash, stated that West Virginia used the blockchain-based mobile app in the federal election. She said, at the time, that the voting results were under audit, adding that “if all goes well, in the midterm elections, West Virginia will bring blockchain voting to UOCAVA [Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act] voters in the state's 55 counties.”

According to the latest report, the app has been tested in two counties during the primary election earlier this year. The audit of the results was successful and revealed no problems.

Warner told CNN that the effort is not aimed at the replacement of traditional balloting, adding that troops can cast paper ballots if they like.

Michael L. Queen, Warner's deputy chief of staff, told CNN that the final decision on using the app in November will be left to each county.

However, technology experts are not much in favor of mobile voting and have even called it a “horrific idea.”

“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,” Joseph Lorenzo Hall, the chief technologist at the Center for Democracy and Technology, told CNN.

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