West Virginia State Secretary of State of the United States Mac Warner reported a first success of the vote on the remote blockchain in an official announcement of November 15th.
Warner said that in the midterm elections of 2018, 144 international army members from 24 counties were able to cast their votes on a blockchain-based mobile platform called Voatz, adding:
"This is a first project in the country that has allowed members of the services in uniform and foreign citizens to use a mobile application for the launch of a vote guaranteed by blockchain technology".
The general election vote on the platform began in September, when the absentee ballot was opened in West Virginia.
The first process of the new platform took place during the state's primary elections in April. Blockchain-based ballots were therefore limited to a select group of voters, such as military members and other citizens eligible to vote absentee under UOCAVA (Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act) and their spouses and dependents .
The Voatz system was initially developed to address the problem of low voter participation among army members. According to Symantec – the company behind the Voatz system – only 368,516, or 18% of the 2 million service members and their families serving abroad received the votes in 2016. After counting the discards and late cards, only 11% of those votes were counted.
While Warner noted the success of the project, his deputy chief of staff Michael Queen told the Washington Post that they had no plans to extend the program beyond the military personnel serving abroad:
"Secretary Warner never and will never support this as a solution for the mainstream vote."
According to data from the United States Elections Project, West Virginia is 44th out of the 50 states in voter turnout at 42.6%.
Some experts have expressed concern about the security of mobile voting. Joseph Lorenzo Hall, Chief Technologist at the Center for Democracy and Technology, said:
"Mobile voting is a horrible idea, it's Internet voting on people's horribly secure devices, on our horrible networks, on servers that are very difficult to protect without a physical recording of the vote."
On the other hand, Bradley Tusk of Tusk Montgomery Philanthropies has encouraged the vote on mobile devices, stating that he can generate more voters and, as a result, "democracy would work much better". Tusk Montgomery Philanthropies helped finance the development of the Voatz app.