West Virginia Plans to Allow Mobile Voting for Disabled People in 2020 Race

Illustration for article titled West Virginia Plans to Allow Mobile Voting for Disabled People in 2020 Race
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While e-voting still has a lot of the U.S. nervous and fretting about cybersecurity concerns, West Virginia is planning to roll out the mobile voting technology to even more residents. Governor Jim Justice aims to sign a bill next week requiring that all counties provide an online ballot option to voters with disabilities—as they already do for military and overseas voters, West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner told local news outlets.

Though officials have yet to make a final decision, Warner said they’d likely be providing counties with the smartphone app Voatz or something similar for use in the 2020 election. In 2018, West Virginia became the first—and, so far, only—state to allow military and overseas voters in all counties to cast their ballot via their smartphones with Voatz.

“The fact that it’s worked for us before and it’s secure means it’s likely we’ll go that direction,” Warner said, adding that he’s waiting for Voatz to finish a security audit before making the state’s choice official.


While cybersecurity experts haven’t found any specific security problems with the app, many have denounced it—along with any kind of online voting, for that matter—by citing increased security risks and potential abuses stemming from insufficient voter verification protocols.

“Mobile voting systems completely run counter to the overwhelming consensus of every expert in the field,” Matt Blaze, a computer scientist at Georgetown University and seasoned election security researcher, told NBC. “This is incredibly unwise.”

While I can understand experts’ concerns, glaring security problems continue to exist in several states’ voting systems, online or not. And with our increasingly digital lifestyles, trying to convince your average voter why they can use their phone for almost everything except casting their ballot feels like a losing battle to me.

Gizmodo weekend editor. Freelance games reporter. Full-time disaster bi.

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Great idea! I used to spend a LOT of time in WV. My SO and family lived there, in a tiny town an hour drive from anywhere else. And that sums up why I think this is great: it was at least an hour to go anywhere for those residents. They had Family Dollar and Dollar General and Shop and Save, but if you wanted Walmart or Kroger or even a pizza, it was a good hour’s drive one way. And this isn’t because of traffic. It’s very challenging mountainous roads with ice and rain and mud and lots of deer just to reach the next small town. Just keeping fuel in their cars was a major expense because they used a lot of fuel doing anything, and there was ONE gas station in their small town. The price was significantly higher than fuel in a much more populated area.

All of this is by way of saying it was difficult to get around. People tended to make a weekly or even monthly trip and that was it. Otherwise they just stayed in their small town. But everybody had smartphones like anywhere else. Anything those residents could do remotely via smartphone would definitely reach a lot of people and save them an outing, and encourage participation.