I am reading this article in Politico titled “West Virginia’s voting experiment stirs security fears”. My initial reaction is Bravo West Virginia! Thank you for breaking new ground that should have been broken years ago, yet as I continue reading, it then goes on to say it could put ballots at risk.
The basics of it is this, West Virginia will deploy a smartphone app – the first State to do so in a general election. This app is said to incorporate blockchain technology like that used in Bitcoin. The driver for all of this is to provide a simpler, secure method of voting for those who are not in country – like our military personnel.
Advocates point to the current method of sending ballots by email, fax, regular mail, and many other ways that are unsecure, susceptible to loss, interception, and late delivery. Opponents say that in a time when the threat of a cyber attack on our election systems is imminent, even with blockchain the risks and potential vulnerabilities are too high. The opponents continue to push for existing voting technology to remain in use – with auditable paper trails and not pursue any online voting.
The article also points out that recognition technology plays a big part in strengthening the security of this voting method as well. Voters are required to scan a bar code on their government ID, then take a picture of their face for facial recognition and their fingers for fingerprint recognition. Not only is this done prior to voting, it is then redone via an email request, for confirmation of vote submission and transmission of the ballot to their State’s election commission.
In My View
I still say Bravo! West Virginia for trying to move into the 21st Century and I hope it proves to be a success. I also understand the concerns surrounding this approach and encourage the government, and security experts around the country to support this type of effort rather than criticize it. Why not work together in forming an encryption method that enables digital voting with failsafe built-in and a means to provide auditing.
The time has come for our country to look ahead at the next horizon in digital transformation, take the lead not only here but abroad, and put the people first. The upcoming generation and those to follow are being taught using technology and expect that is the world they will some day enter and manage. We see it now as millennial enter the workforce and government positions.
The old ways of doing things are comfortable and thus the preferred method but it is not always the best. If we had pushed aside Edison, Ford, and Firestone the country would still be in the dark and walking, or maybe riding horses if lucky enough to own one.