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West Virginia counties to test biometric absentee voting app for military members

Categories Biometrics News  |  Elections

The West Virginia counties of Harrison and Monongalia are testing an mobile voting application secured by biometric and blockchain technology for overseas members of the military, the first trial of its kind in the U.S., according to WVNews.com.

U.S. citizens registered to vote in either of the counties who are eligible under the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act, including members of the military and their spouses and dependents, can use the app, provided by Tusk Montgomery Philanthropies and startup Voatz, for the State’s primary elections on May 8.

The app uses facial recognition to compare a user’s selfie to the picture of a photo ID they scan, and then registers the user and issues a ballot. After filling out the ballot, the user takes another selfie or submits a thumbprint for biometric authentication, and the vote is recorded on a distributed ledger. The blockchain encryption keys are hand delivered by Voatz staff to the clerks in the participating counties to decrypt and record votes.

The process could be rolled out to other counties for the November mid-term elections, if successful, WVNews reports.

While biometrics are used in many places to create and verify voter registration rolls, as in the contract Ipsidy recently won with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, mobile voting apps are yet to be widely deployed. Voatz received $2.2 million in seed funding in January.

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