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West Virginia Partners With Startup To Bring Smartphone Voting To Some Military Residents

Evie Fordham | Politics and Health Care Reporter

Some West Virginia residents serving overseas in the military will be able to cast their ballots via smartphone after the state partnered with Boston startup Voatz for a pilot program.

“When I was in the military myself, there were a number of situations where I had difficulty voting myself and then all four of my children are also in the military and they also had difficulty voting. In fact, they have not been able to vote at all during various times,” West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner told Fox Business.

In this photo taken on July 7, 2018, A US Army soldier from NATO and an Afghan Local Police (ALP) look on in a checkpoint during a patrol against Islamic State militants at the Deh Bala district in the eastern province of Nangarhar Province. WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP/Getty Images

“This is a real problem and when I became West Virginias secretary of state I wanted to find a way to make this happen and we found that the answer is technology,” Warner, who is a Republican, continued.

Voatz and West Virginia first worked together to make it easier for members of the military to vote via smartphone during the primary elections in May, reported Fox Business. (RELATED: Here Are The Candidates Who Received Trumps Endorsement For The Midterms… How Will They Do On Election Day?)

“This is not internet voting through a browser. Its through an app using a modern smartphone that has thumbprint or facial recognition capabilities,” Voatz board member Jonathan Johnson told Fox Business.

Voters use a video selfie to confirm their identity in the app, which uses thumbprint and facial recognition technologies and blockchain technologies to protect and anonymize the voters ballot.

The overseas voters who are cleared to vote using Voatz will get the chance to cast ballots in the toss-up Senate race between Democratic incumbent Sen. Joe Manchin and Republican challenger Patrick Morisey.

Since roughly 450,000 U.S. troops are stationed overseas, smartphone voting could streamline many voters experiences if other states try it.

Voatzs West Virginia program will include residents of 24 counties, reported WV News.

Voatz was founded in 2014 and bills itself as a “mobile elections platform.”

The pilot program still makes some people worry about election security, which has popped up as a major issue in some races. One of those races is the Georgia gubernatorial contest between Republican Brian Kemp and Democrat Stacey Abrams. Abrams accused Kemp of suppressing minority voters while in his office as Georgia secretary of state.

No West Virginia municipality made the list for the top 100 cities for veterans to live in 2018.

Follow Evie on Twitter @eviefordham.

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