US State Tests Blockchain in Election

West Virginia is using Blockchain in the Senate Primary voting.

by Marin Marinov
29 March • 3.5 min
In Tech

West Virginia becomes the first US State to use the Blockchain technology in a federal election, the local government announced on Wednesday. The Bitcoin technology, picked out because of its high security, is incorporated in a pilot mobile app for the US Army.

Military personnel, their spouses and dependents in two counties of West Virginia, Harrison and Monongalia, can use the app from March 23 till the end of the Primary election day on May 8. Military staff abroad from both counties are also allowed to vote in the Senate primary, the process of selecting party candidates for the US Senate Midterm Election in November.

Why Blockchain?

The pilot system is a result of another pilot e-voting military project in West Virginia in 2010 that was web-based and only available by desktop computer. This year the state has decided to use Blockchain, a distributed public ledger technology (DLT) that tracks all activities on its protocol, because of its high security.

a lot of small points linked with long lines and one big word in the middle

“We're working hard to increase the level of confidence citizens have in our election process. Increased confidence results in increased participation,” the West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner said in a statement.

The blockchain e-voting system enables expanding the borders of the 2010-project toward the oversee military personnel and their spouses: “Whether a Soldier is without mail service in the mountains of Afghanistan, or a Sailor is in a submarine under the polar ice cap, they deserve the opportunity to participate easily in our democracy. They should have a voice in choosing who sends them into harm’s way,” noted Warner, a retired US Army Lieutenant Colonel, who served 23 years in the military.

How does it work?

The blockchain voting app is available for Android and iOS mobile system. It includes four steps: identification, receiving the ballot paper, voting for the preferred candidate and again verification through thumb print Touch ID on the smartphones.

one big white box with blue sign

The app is a result of cooperation between West Virginia government, the Blockchain Trust Accelerator (BTA), a nonprofit project of New America policy institute, and the Tusk Montgomery Philanthropies, a fund established by Bradley Tusk, founder and CEO of Tusk Holdings & Tusk Ventures.

Scope of the project

The app is available only for two of the fifty-five counties, Harrison and Monongalia. Harrison is the fourth-most-populous county in the state with 96 000 residents and Harrison is sixth with 69 000 residents. However, the scope of the blockchain is smaller because all military personnel in West Virginia is around 10 000, according to the US Department of Defense data.