CHARLESTON, W. Va. (WOWK) — The Mountain State was the first to allow military personnel serving overseas to vote from mobile devices, and this year some disabled voters will cast ballots that way, too. But, as we first reported in early February research by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, or M-I-T, showed that the ballot casting app, known as “VOATZ,” might be vulnerable to attack. So West Virginia is switching to a new vendor called “Democracy Live – Omni Ballot.”
“Any research study that has a negative potential impact on voter confidence, has to be considered by the Secretary of State’s Office. And so we did consider the MIT report,” said Deak Kersey, Chief Counsel, WV Secretary of State’s office.
The new system is a web-based portal, not a cell phone app. People can still vote from their phone using a web browser to access the ballot casting site. Several Members of the House of Delegates, who are military veterans, say it’s important for electronic ballots to continue:
“When a man or woman signs up to serve our country, they have the right to vote. They also have a right to have a secure vote, a safe vote that will be counted,” said Del. Linda Longstreth, (D) Marion – U.S. Army Veteran.
“As far as the security, we obviously want the vote to be secure, because you don’t want anyone hijacking the system so to speak,” said Del. Jim Butler, (R) Mason – U.S. Marine Veteran.
The Secretary of State’s office, which repeatedly expressed confidence in the “VOATZ” system, says it is more confident now with the new system. The voting portal will store its data in the Amazon A-W-S Cloud, the same location the CIA, FBI and NSA use to securely store some of their data.
“Several different states are going to use the same system, or have used it since 2010,” said Deak Kersey, of the WV Secretary of State’s office.
“Democracy Vote – Omni Ballot” will be ready for the West Virginia Primary on May 12th.
“There is one big difference between the web-voting portal and the old App. Voters can actually print out a copy of their completed ballot and mail it to the county clerk’s office as a way of double-verifying the fact that they voted,” said Mark Curtis, 13 News Chief Political Reporter.