In Tuesday’s midterm election, a total of 144 West Virginians living abroad voted in the largest-ever blockchain-based voting pilot. The state piloted the blockchain-backed Voatz mobile app that uses smartphones, facial recognition, multifactor authentication, and blockchain technology to let state residents living abroad participate in the elections. The pilot, which is the first of its kind in the U.S., was used in 24 of West Virginia’s 55 counties. Functionally, when a user votes with the app, the vote is stored on a private blockchain which can then be unlocked by county clerks when the polls close. When the clerks take votes from blockchain, they are immediately printed onto paper ballots, which are then fed into tabulating machines–the same as when an individual votes in person. While the state is excited about trying the new technology, many security experts have raised concerns about trusting such a sensitive process to a relatively new technology. However, Maurice Turner, an election security expert at D.C.-based think tank Center for Democracy and Technology, argued that voting with the Voatz app is likely more secure than submitting a traditional absentee ballot by mail.
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