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Some active military voters to cast ballot using smartphone app

Posted: 9:06 AM, Nov 02, 2018
Updated: 2018-11-02 10:08:03-04

(NBC News) As Americans head to the voting booth Tuesday, a small group of people will cast their ballot using a smartphone.

This year, West Virginia is giving some voters the option to cast their absentee ballot from a mobile device, using an app called Voatz.

The pilot program is only available to active military and overseas voters from 24 counties.

The Voatz app verifies identity with an ID and video selfie, protects selections with biometric verification, and the final ballot is anonymized and secured using blockchain. The app also creates a paper ballot that officials can compare with the digital receipt in a post-election audit.

“Only time will tell, and being able to demonstrate successful use cases and move step by step is how you build trust,” said Hilary Braseth with Voatz.

Trust that may be hard to earn with the privacy and security concerns surrounding online voting, and the unsettling possibility of a hacked election.

But the convenience of an app could also have a positive impact on voter turnout.

In 2014, only about 36 percent of eligible voters showed up to the polls.

“If I were a betting man, in the future, at some point, we’re probably all going to be voting from our couches,” said Ian Sherr with CNET.

With 77 percent of American adults using a smartphone, Tuesday’s midterm elections could be a step towards that future.

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