Blockchain-based, online voting pilot undertaken in West Virginia

An online voting pilot has taken place in West Virginia, USA, for military voters and other Americans eligible to cast absentee ballots under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act. Participation was restricted to voters registered in two of the state’s 55 counties, Harrison and Monongalia.

The trial took place during West Virginia’s primary election on May 8th, using a blockchain-based voting platform developed by Voatz.

Mike Queen, communications director for West Virginia Secretary of State, Mac Warner, said:

“Blockchain does provide a heightened level of security on this type of mobile voting app. We’re genuinely hoping that will allow this type of mobile app to be made available in the future – as early perhaps as our general election – to military voters.”

Following an audit of the votes, Secretary Warner will decide in July whether to implement the technology state-wide. His office described blockchain-based voting as “a real, viable option.”

Mac Warner
Secretary Warner, himself a military veteran, will be making a decision on wider implementation in July.

Armed forces personnel posted overseas can face particular difficulties in voting at elections often having to depend on proxy voting or placing faith in postal votes, if that option is readily available to them. Read more in our Military Voting report published last year, here.

The potential of blockchain for online voting is that auditors, voters, and other stakeholders should be able to verify the presence of all encrypted votes that have entered the system and have been successfully cast. The nature of blockchain means that auditors could confirm that no legitimate votes have been tampered with or deleted, and that no false votes have been added.

Read more about the potential and pitfalls of blockchain for online voting in our explainer here.

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