The US 2018 midterm election could be called historical for a number of reasons. For those interested in blockchain technology, the election was special for the use of an app called Voatz. Launched in West Virginia, the app was used for voting by the state’s residents who are currently overseas. To ensure the app won’t get hacked, its developers decided to base it on the blockchain technology.
This app was born out of an idea of Mac Warner, the secretary of state Virginia, who drew from his experience as a US military employee. From his personal experience, Warner knew how difficult it was for the army personnel to vote when they are stationed overseas.
To get this app developed, Warner needed help, which he got from Bradley Tusk, the founder of Tusk Montgomery, an organization dedicated to improving democracy in the United States. According to Tusk, in order for American democracy to have a bright future, a bigger participation of the public is necessary. In practice, this means that the voters need to get more involved. A way of helping them do so is making the voting process more convenient. And that’s exactly what this app can do.
How Does It Work?
People from West Virginia who are not in the country when the elections take place usually have a lot of problems to get their votes in. And this especially goes for those Americans who are located in some more remote parts of the world.
What this application does is that it stores their votes on a private blockchain no matter where they might be, transmitting the ballots to several computers at the same time, thus ensuring that the votes are not tempered with. To make sure that the votes are one-hundred percent valid, the app uses end-to-end encryption, but also biometric verification which includes fingerprint scan (or even eye scan) on the smartphone.
Did the App Bring More Votes in 2018?
The United States is not ranked very well in terms of voter turnout. In fact, less than sixty percent of all US voters actually turn up for elections. And this is a trend that has been around for more than half a century.
West Virginia is the state with the second-lowest voters’ turnout in the last couple of elections, just behind Hawaii. Obviously, every little things helps, including this voting app. The question is not whether it increases the number of voters, but whether it makes the elections fairer.
Blockchain is a technology famous for being almost un-hackable, but can it compare to the old-fashioned voting process in terms of security? Many believe that it can’t. Actually, according to a report from the U.S. Vote Foundation, internet voting apps are under serious threat of hacker attacks, malware, voter authentication frauds, and so on.
The biggest problem with this is that it is very difficult to figure out whether the votes have been tempered. After all, voting in the US is anonymous. So, all that’s left is to trust that the voting app is secure.
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