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A Tech Investor Brought Cellphone Voting to West Virginia, Igniting Debate About Access and Security

The app would allow a few hundred West Virginians to cast a federal election vote on their smartphones this November.

A former political operative and Uber investor is bankrolling an effort to allow West Virginians serving in the military or living overseas to cast absentee ballots through an app on their smartphones.

Credit: Alexandr III/Shutterstock/

Former political operative and Uber investor Bradley Tusk is funding an effort to allow West Virginians serving in the military or living abroad to cast absentee ballots via a cellphone app.

Voters would download the Voatz app, using it to take snapshots of government-issued ID cards and confirm their identities by capturing selfies and letting the app match them to the faces on their cards.

Voatz employs blockchain, which will store a record of a vote on multiple computers or servers at different locations, each checking the record against each other.

However, Voatz has sparked a debate about whether using new technologies to expand voting access or shielding the integrity of votes from cyberattackers is more critical.

Election security expert Lawrence Norden called the app “a horrific idea,” and suggested states should focus on enhancing cybersecurity rather than new voting methods.

Jeremy Epstein, vice chair of the ACM Technology Policy Committee, said of Voatz, “They've done nothing to demonstrate in a public way why it's been secure.”

From ABC News
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