Could voting be easier if it were done on a smartphone app? West Virginia is going to try--at least for their deployed troops who aren't home to vote--with the Voatz iOS and Android app for the 2018 midterm elections.
The Voatz app is ready to be used, if an election administration chooses to employ it. Users can register by uploading a photo of their government issued ID and a selfie of their face. Along with its facial recognition technology, Voatz keeps its ballots anonymized and recorded in a blockchain--a list of linked records using cryptography.
Voatz app developer Nimit Sawhney wants to make it simpler and safer for people to vote in elections using their smartphones or tablets.
Sawhney grew up in India in the mid 1980s after Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated. He recalls elections occurring immediately afterwards and Indian citizens being forced to vote at gunpoint.
While soldiers in the United States fight to preserve the country's freedoms, they often can't participate in elections, even with absentee ballots. It's been this way for most of US military history. Those who have dedicated their lives to serving their country aren't always able to participate in one of the rights they fight for.
"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," West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner told CNN.
Sawhney's app might also help to fight voter apathy. Some citizens don't participate in any election because they think their voice doesn't matter. Turnout fluctuates depending on the election, but generally presidential elections get 60 percent of eligible voters and midterm elections get 40 percent according to FairVote.org. Elections falling on an odd year, primaries and local elections are even lower.
Not everyone thinks the country is ready for mobile voting though. Joseph Lorenzo Hall, the chief technologist at the Center for Democracy and Technology, called the idea horrific, saying devices were nowhere near secure enough. Marian K. Schneider, president of the election integrity watchdog group Verified Voting, agreed.
Officials and experts are understandably on edge after the recent federal indictment of Russia's attempts to hack US voting systems during the 2016 presidential race and rumors of a potential hack in the upcoming midterm elections.
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- The Voatz app is going to be used as an experiment in West Virginia's midterm election to give deployed soldiers have the opportunity to vote from their smartphones.
- Some are questioning the security of mobile voting in light of the Russian hacking scandals that marked the 2016 presidential election.
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- Here are the best (and fastest) ways to register to vote (CNET)
- Blockchain voting: Can it help secure our elections? (ZDNet)