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West Virginia Allows Voting By App in Midterms
Voting could be about to get easier for Overseas Americans, but at what cost?
As the 2018 Midterm elections close in, one story that has the potential to be very significant for Overseas Americans is the use of a new smartphone app in voting for West Virginia's elections.
As reported by Politico, the new app will be the first time in the US that voters can place their ballot by smartphone. The app, called Voatz, will only be accessible by registered voters who have been successful in registering their Overseas ballot, as outlined by the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act. 24 of West Virginia's 55 counties will allow voting by smartphone.
Speaking to Politico, Mike Queen, the deputy chief of staff and director of communications to Mac Warner, the West Virginia Secretary of State, said "Not providing a means by which military men and women who are fighting for our democracy can participate in our democracy themselves, just doesn't sit well with not only Secretary Warner but our county clerks here". Although Warner and Queen have empahsized the use of the app for American service personnel stationed outside of the US, the app will also be available to West Virginia voters resident overseas as well.
Although the use of smartphone app technology could make it significantly easier for Overseas Americans to submit their vote, Politico's article on the subject also raises a number of potential security risks, citing comments from experts in cybersecurity and election integrity. One such comment came from David Jefferson, a computer scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories and a member of the board of Verified Voting, a group founded to safeguard the democratic process through modern technological advances in voting procedures. Jefferson said "This is a crazy time to be pulling a stunt like this. I don't know what they're thinking ... All internet voting systems, including this one, have a host of cyber vulnerabilities which make it extremely dangerous."
Whilst this is a further example that Overseas Americans are increasingly being considered an important part of the electoral process, Politico's report is a stark reminder that at a time of heightened cybersecurity awareness, integrity of the democratic process has to be at the forefront of any changes made to US voting procdedures.