West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner Advocates for Expanding Mobile Voting App During Presentation to Rotary Club of Wheeling
Secretary Warner Wants Efforts Expanded
West Virginia leads the nation as the first state to allow soldiers and others overseas to vote by mobile device, and Secretary of State Mac Warner wants to expand this effort in the state and across the country.
Warner addressed the Rotary Club of Wheeling Tuesday, and spoke of his office’s pilot project to permit many living overseas the opportunity to vote by using an app.
The person who is financing the venture is business and political strategist Bradley Tusk, also adviser to the founders of Uber, according to Warner. Tusk has written a book called ” The Fixer” that looks at the intersection of politics, technology and business.
“His vision is to have everybody in the United States be able to vote using a mobile device,” he said. “Right now, you have all this Russian meddling going on, and people pushing to go back to paper (voting).
“We’ve got the Express Vote … in West Virginia, and I’m pushing to help Bradley Tusk get people to vote using a mobile device.”
The issue of allowing Americans overseas — especially soldiers — have an easy way to vote hits close to home with Warner. The West Point graduate has a military background, and four children who are former or current Army officers.
“I have given a challenge to my technology department. You have to be able to vote without using electricity of printers or scanners,” he said. “And if you are in a submarine under a polar ice cap, the U.S. Postal Service doesn’t deliver there. If you’re at an outpost on a hillside in Afghanistan, the U.S. Postal Service doesn’t serve there.”
Warner said his team contacted Tusk Montgomery Philanthropies, and found the group was willing to fund a pilot project in West Virginia to permit voting through a phone app. The app was in operation for the 2018 elections.
Today’s world is not about the customer going to the business, but the business coming to the customer, Warner told the Rotarians.
This is also a world concerned about cybersecurity, and the validity of elections, he acknowledged.
According to information provided by the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office, the state has implemented a secure mobile voting application that allows voters to receive, vote, and return their ballots electronically. The application also utilizes blockchain technology to store electronically submitted ballots until election night, and requires a heightened standard of identity verification for users than traditional absentee ballot processes.
Voters from six different countries used the app in the 2018 primary election. Post-election security audits by several independent and widely respected technology auditing companies showed that the technology provided a secure platform for voting and an alternative to the traditional absentee paper ballot, according to the provided information.
Eligible uniformed services members and overseas voters in 24 of West Virginia’s 55 counties now have the option to vote on their cellphone or mobile tablet.
The app is available to voters in Hancock, Marshall, Ohio and Wetzel counties in the Northern Panhandle.