Voatz is conducting the pilot under a $20,000 contract, which has been funded by Tusk Montgomery Philanthropies, a New York foundation with a mission to make it “exponentially easier to vote.”  

Warner says the state tested the Voatz system times, including in two of its bigger counties during its May primaries, when it attracted 19 votes in all. It also conducted four different audits.

For the coming midterms, the system will employ numerous safeguards.

The Voatz system uses a native iPhone and Android app that requires a smartphone with fingerprint and facial recognition along with a government-issued ID card. The ballot will be encrypted and identified with a unique code before it’s stored on a blockchain with at least 16 and perhaps as many as 32 validating nodes, half on Microsoft’s Azure cloud servers and half on Amazon’s AWS servers.

While blockchains are more typically controlled by a highly decentralized group of validators, West Virginia’s blockchain will be controlled for now by the state and Voatz, according to Voatz founder Nimit Sawhney.

To satisfy best practices, the state and Voatz also developed a way to print a ballot to creating a verifiable paper trail, a -of-the-list best practice.

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