CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Secretary of State’s office will go with a different vendor as they work to expanded electronic absentee voting in West Virginia during the 2020 election cycle.
Secretary of State Mac Warner has announced that for the upcoming primary election, West Virginia will use the Democracy Live electronic voting system after testing the Voatz app in the last election cycle.
“They’ve been around for a decade. They’ve participated in elections throughout the United States since 2010 and they have a fully compliant A-D-A functionality in their system which allows a voter who is blind or visually impaired to mark their ballot without assistance,” Deak Kersey, general counsel for the West Virginia Secretary of State’s office said.
West Virginia was part of a pilot program in 2018 and allowed members of the military stationed overseas to vote via the Voatz App.The Voatz App was on a mobile phone whereas Democracy Live is on a fixed server. According to Kersey, only 144 voters used the App in West Virginia’s 2018 general election and only 13 during the primary. It was a pilot project and a test.
As part oft he expansion, the Secretary of State’s office wants the electronic application to encompass those with visual impairment or other disabilities which might keep them from the polls. The electronic voting mechanism will allow them to cast a ballot without the assistance of another individual. The change allows those who are visually impaired or fully blind to participate without revealing their vote to another person. Kersey added Democracy Live had a strong track record on the disabilities front and they were A-D-A complaint.
Another issue which was a strike against Voatz was the negative reviews by M.I.T. researchers who tested the app for security and claimed to have found flaws in the system’s security. Vendors dispute the findings and claim the researchers didn’t give the App a fair chance. Despite those claims, Kersey admitted, there were concerns.
“We just found for public confidence sake and security and the use in previous elections it made sense since we were going to open this up to more voters, to go with a vendor whose been around a little longer,” Kersey explained.