West Virginia's mobile voting app aimed to help military, handicapped vote

After Iowa caucuses debacle, will this be secure enough?

In the wake of the Iowa caucuses' use of a glitchy app that threw the results of the electoral event into disarray, the idea of voting via a mobile device might make one raise an eyebrow.

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However, the purpose behind expanding the program is noble, West Virginia Secretary of State Andrew "Mac" Warner told FOX Business.

"Think of somebody who doesn't have use of their arms or their hands or is disabled to the point where they couldn't get to a precinct to vote or even, perhaps, to their mailbox to pick up mail," Warner noted on Monday.

Warner said no matter the situation, whether serving abroad or being physically incapacitated, "those people have just as much right to participate in our democratic process."

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Being a former lieutenant colonel in the Army, Warner knows firsthand how difficult it is to vote when overseas.

"The problem is only about 13 percent of active-duty military get their votes counted, and this is due to a number of hurdles that are placed in either not knowing about the election, forgetting about it or being deployed," Warner explained.

The system, called Voatz, lets residents vote remotely via smartphone from anywhere on the globe instead of having to get to a polling station or by mail. It's been used by other states like Colorado, Oregon and Utah during the 2018 midterm elections.

The app, however, has recently come under fire for what a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) report calls "security vulnerabilities."

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The report, which was released on Thursday, points to "a number of weaknesses, including the opportunity for hackers to alter, stop, or expose how an individual user has voted," a MIT release said.

Boston-based Voatz disputed the research methods, issuing a statement that said the analysts used an old version of the app and accused them of acting in “bad faith.”

The company noted it hasn't had any reported issues in its counting of fewer than 600 votes.

"You have to have a sophisticated particular type of either iPhone or Android device that's the most modern," Warner said of the app's security protocols. "Then you have the app itself, and that's a whole other set of security measures that take place to make sure that app is secure, and to try to penetrate both of those is rather problematic."

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Warner made clear the app isn't a solution for everyone.

On Sunday, the Iowa Democratic Party began partially recanvassing the state's caucus precincts after the campaigns of Sen. Bernie Sanders and former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg made their requests last week. The recanvassing should take a couple of days, according to the party.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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