West Virginia is offering mobile voting for troops serving overseas this November, becoming the first state to utilize an app for federal elections. The novel move has sparked criticism from those wary of potential security issues, as the U.S. continues to face online threats from those aiming to meddle in the upcoming midterms, but West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner says the system is secure.
“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,” said Warner of the troops invited to use the mobile process, according to CNN.
Deployed troops from West Virginia can choose to cast their ballot through paper, per the usual process, or download and use the Boston-based app Voatz. The app asks voters to confirm their identity by taking a photo of their government-issued ID and then taking a video of their face. The app uses facial recognition to confirm the ID is a match to the person in the video, and then the individual can cast their vote.
Votes are stored anonymously using blockchain technology, most commonly known for its use in cryptocurrencies. This method of blockchain voting was successfully used in a test run by a Switzerland community earlier this summer, although with a different app.
In four audits of a Voatz test conducted earlier this year, Warner said no issues were detected. But the new system is not aiming to replace traditional voting. CNN reports every county can choose if they want to use the mobile voting method for certain populations this November.