One of the final bills taken up by the House of Representatives last week was State Rep. Bill Buckbee’s (R-67th) proposal to study the use of blockchain technology to collect voter information.

Similarly, Buckbee had played an integral part in moving along the initial study of blockchain technology, which was favorably voted into law during the 2018 legislative session.

Blockchain is most commonly known as the technology used in the trading and securing of cryptocurrency.

However, many private industries outside of financial institutions have begun to explore how it could be used to store internal and consumer data. State and local governments share similar interests.

The State of West Virginia, according to West Virginia’s Secretary of State Mac Warner, had successfully implemented blockchain to facilitate the voting of 144 members of the military, spread over 24 different countries, in the 2018 election.

“We don’t want to get behind other states when it comes to embracing a practical application of an emerging technology,” Buckbee said. “This legislation directly builds off of the initial task force that was established by the legislature last year.”

“With growing concerns of voter fraud and lack of voter participation, it’s important to consider how blockchain could be used to remedy those issues,” he said. “The task force will also investigate concerns related to cybersecurity and privacy, while weighing the feasibility of the state’s ability to implement any recommendations the task force may put forward.”

Connecticut’s Secretary of State’s Office submitted testimony in support of the concept, stating that the study of blockchain could be a good way to facilitate voting.

The creation of a task force is the most efficient way to identify ways in which this technology could be beneficial, and to point out the potential risks involved with implementation.

“It’s a step in the right direction toward helping voter data, stored by the Secretary of the State’s Office, to be kept in an accurate and secure fashion,” Buckbee said.

“Additionally, there might be emerging avenues that make the registration and voter verification processes smoother and more user friendly - two major components in helping increase overall voter participation,” he said.

The bill makes its way to the State Senate.