West Virginia this abatement will let associates of the military and their families deployed across to vote by smartphone or book appliance a blockchain-based app developed by Boston start-up, Voatz.
The voters appliance the app would contrarily accept to abide cardboard absentee ballots via mail or vote over a acreage band telephone.
The move agency the accompaniment will become the aboriginal in the U.S. to use blockchain in a voting arrangement in a accepted election.
After actuality adopted in January 2017, West Virginia Secretary of Accompaniment Mac Warner tasked IT agents to investigate adaptable voting options for 8,000 West Virginian aggressive associates overseas. Warner, a retired U.S. Army ambassador with four accouchement who are additionally all accepted or above Army officers, cited his own disability to vote aback deployed in Afghanistan as one acumen for his efforts.
“The acceptable absentee cardboard acclamation action isn’t advantageous for aggressive cadre in alien areas that don’t accept a reliable postal account or a landline blast – both of which is adapted if any across voters is activity to participate in the absentee acclamation process,” said Mike Queen, Warner’s agent arch of staff. “But, everybody has a corpuscle phone, right?”
After because a half-dozen options, Warner acclimatized on Voatz. The aggregation said it has conducted added than 30 acknowledged pilots that ambit from accompaniment affair conventions to apprentice government elections. In the bigger election, added than 15,000 votes were cast, it declared in a blog post.
Voatz iPhone adaptable voting application.
Military cadre and their families who appetite to use the Voatz app will alone charge an Apple or Android smartphone and a accompaniment or federal ID.
The Voatz appliance uses a permissioned blockchain based on the HyperLedger framework aboriginal created by IBM and now authentic by the Linux foundation. In the accepted election, eight absolute acceptance nodes will be used, breach ogously amid AWS and Microsoft Azure, anniversary of which are geographically distributed, according to Voatz.
“We accept done a ton of due activity on this action and we’ve actively advised every complaint and affair about blockchain,” Queen said. “Not alone does blockchain accomplish it secure, but Voatz has a absolutely different biometric aegis arrangement in abode as able-bodied that involves facial acceptance and deride prints.”
To participate in the West Virginia’s Defended Aggressive Adaptable Voting pilot program, a able and acceptable aborigine charge aboriginal abide a Federal Column Card Appliance to their canton agent advertence they would like to accept voting advice via email or online (that action can be done via email in West Virginia). Already the aborigine receives acceptance from the clerk, they can download the chargeless adaptable voting app from Voatz, authenticate themselves appliance it and – aloft cancellation of the acclamation – vote.
On the Voatz app, affidavit is a three-step action that uses the smartphone’s camera and its biometric affection (i.e. fingerprint or facial recognition). First, the aborigine scans their accompaniment driver’s authorization or passport; afresh they booty a alive facial snapshot (a video “selfie”), and assuredly they blow the fingerprint clairvoyant on the smartphone, which ties the accessory to the specific voter.
Once a aborigine is authenticated, the app matches the voter’s “selfie” to the facial account on their authorization or driver’s authorization and confirms accommodation to vote by blockage the state’s aborigine allotment database.
The arrangement ensures aborigine anonymity and aloofness by autumn alone identifiable advice in a database abstracted from the blockchain broadcast arrangement area a assortment table is acclimated to actualize an encrypted online identity. The aborigine is in ascendancy of the clandestine encryption key.
In May, two of West Virginia’s 55 counties activated the Voatz adaptable app in the primary election, acceptance deployed aggressive cadre to use it. Three absolute audits of the Voatz apparatus and the consistent acclamation abstracts appear no problems, Queen said.
In July, West Virginia captivated a statewide aegis appointment involving all 55 canton clerks and acclamation admiral area the primary acclamation abstracts was presented and the Voatz app already afresh vetted. After the conference, Voatz was asked to body into the appliance the adeptness to actualize a absolute cardboard aisle for absentee voters.
For example, aback a soldier votes in the accepted acclamation in November, as anon as they advance the “send” on they accustomed an burning archetype of their ballet and they’re asked whether it’s accurate. If it is, they hit accelerate again, and its transmitted to the adapted country clerk’s office, Queen said.
Michela Menting, agenda aegis ysis ambassador at UK-based ABI Research, said adaptable voting applications accept shortcomings – involving both ease-of-use apropos and aegis fears. For one, not anybody has a top-of-the-line smartphone.
“Also, that accouterments allotment would charge to deeply abundance a assortment of your biometric advice in adjustment to use the biometric modalities on the buzz to verify your identity,” Menting said via email.
On the aback end, the aggregation processing your biometric advice charge ensure it’s actuality done securely, so it can’t be baseborn for crooked use. “So, a aggregation like Voatz would accept to ensure that it is applying the accomplished aegis standards to the aegis and administration of that data,” she said.
That said, Menting believes absentee voting is a acceptable use case for blockchain, which is a broadcast balance technology that creates an abiding almanac of any abstracts entry. The pre-verified user abaft any abstracts entered on a blockchain is hidden by a assortment key, so the character charcoal bearding except for the ambassador of the broadcast ledger.
“It provides a added cellophane adjustment for voters and additionally bigger aegis from aborigine fraud,” Menting said.
In time, agnate blockchain applications could be acclimated for added purposes, such as ambience up a government identity, accepting a driver’s license, advantageous taxes or for acclaim ratings, Menting added. “There are abounding abeyant use cases area these could be angry in together, to the account of the alone who charcoal in ascendancy of their abstracts and assets afterimage into what and how that abstracts can be used,” she said.
While blockchain for voting purposes is new, adaptable voting isn’t. Estonia, for example, has accustomed e-voting back 2001 and it alien alien voting via the internet in 2005. In 2017, about 25% of Estonia’s registered voters acclimated e-voting, acceptance themselves through a adaptable ID, Menting said. Blockchain technology is additionally acclimated in Estonia’s e-residency program for law administration and for acceptance accommodating advice in the nation’s healthcare system.
Voatz’s adaptable voting app has already been acclimated by several universities, activity unions, accompaniment political parties and alike abbey groups. Earlier this year, Medici Ventures led a $2.2 actor allotment annular for the startup, according to Voatz.
West Virginia has no affairs to aggrandize the use of Voatz above aggressive absentee voters.
“We’re not advocating it as a agency to vote for the absolute country. We set out to acquisition a band-aid to abode the botheration of aggressive not actuality able to vote,” Queen said.
Warner advised the blockchain app’s use from “risk against reward” standpoint, area the aegis accident for a almost baby accumulation of absentee voters is account the accolade of enabling them to vote, Queen said.
“If you use it domestically, the accident of a drudge goes up,” he said.
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