West Virginia has become the first ever U.S. state to offer internet voting supported by blockchain technology.  The West Virginia government is testing the technology as part of a pilot program, so that deployed members of the military and their dependents have the opportunity to vote in the upcoming Senate primary election on May 8th, without actually being physically present at traditional ballots.

A statement made on the Secretary of State’s website calls the current process for absentee military voters, “cumbersome to complete,” and hopes this blockchain-based solution will alleviate any issues. The report further states that finding solutions to allow military members to participate in voting more easily was among West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner’s top priorities since taking office.

Warner said:

“Our military service personnel fight every day across the globe to protect our way of life. They deserve to vote as much as anyone, and we owe it to them to make the process as easy as possible,” “Whether a Soldier is without mail service in the mountains of Afghanistan, or a Sailor is in a submarine under the polar icecap, they deserve the opportunity to participate easily in our democracy. They should have a voice in choosing who sends them into harm’s way.”

The technology powered by Boston-based startup Voatz works by recording votes on the blockchain. A voter’s identity is verified using biometric tools such as a fingerprint or facial scan. Not only does this mean that miscount potential is eliminated, but voters can see their vote directly on the blockchain, and the vote can be cast from anywhere in the world with internet access. The move makes voting as transparent and accurate as possible, with the hope of increasing both trust and participation.

“West Virginia is taking the lead in providing safe, secure and accurate voting systems to encourage voter participation at every level,” said Secretary Warner. “We’re working hard to increase the level of confidence citizens have in our election process. Increased confidence results in increased participation.”

Warner and his team will gauge success via a number of metrics, including voter participation. But Warner is also concerned about the app’s user-friendliness, stating that “Not only are we looking forward to military voters participating in this pilot project, we’re asking for their input on the user-friendly nature of the mobile application itself.”

The pilot program, which is a joint venture between the Office of the Secretary of State of West Virginia, Voatz, Tusk/Montgomery Philanthropies, New America and the Blockchain Trust Accelerator, is limited to voters in just two counties – Harrison and Monongalia County – for the time being. However, according to Warner, the plan is to expand across all 55 of the state’s counties during the 2018 general election in November if the program is deemed a success.

 

 

Digital currency exchange giant Coinbase announced via their official blog that they’ll soon be supporting Ethereum-based ERC20 tokens across their various platforms, including GDAX and the newly launched Coinbase Index Fund.

Coinbase currently offers only four cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and Bitcoin Cash. The addition of ERC20 token support opens up the possibility of Coinbase adding one or more of the over 500 ERC20 tokens that exist on the market currently.

Coinbase itself only lists cryptocurrencies after they’ve been listed on GDAX, though Coinbase points out that just because an asset is offered on GDAX doesn’t necessarily determine if it’s offered via Coinbase as well. Coinbase cites liquidity and price range as factors that go into choosing an asset for listing.

On GDAX, Coinbase states that it’s waiting for further clarity on regulation and the effect it may have on the classification of specific assets (ie. a security, commodity, or currency).

Both Coinbase and GDAX supporting ERC20 tokens means there will soon be a pathway to recover any funds customers lost by sending ERC20 tokens incorrectly to an Ethereum address – a mistake that is surprisingly common.

Coinbase offers secure wallets for substantial value crypto holders through Coinbase Custody, which will also support ERC20 tokens. Coinbase Custody too is likely to offer additional asset storage beyond what is offered via GDAX or Coinbase proper.

Lastly, for Coinbase’s newly launched Coinbase Index Fund, the Coinbase Asset Management division will follow their previously announced approach, that any assets added to GDAX will automatically have its market cap applied to the Index Fund’s weighted average.

Coinbase took the opportunity to reiterate that despite the newly added support for ERC20 tokens, no specific asset support or listings are being announced at this time.

summit

Crypto Invest Summit is the largest investment conference and expo for ICOs, blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies on the West Coast.

Taking place from April 30th through May 2nd at the Los Angeles Convention Center, Crypto Invest Summit promises to bring the “who-is-who” in the cryptocurrency and blockchain space together on two stages for two days of presentations, pitches, educational panels and insightful fireside chats with industry leaders

Crypto Invest Summit co-founder Josef Holm was kind enough to take the time to answer a few questions about the event. You can read the interview below.

Interview with Crypto Invest Summit Co-Founder Josef Holm

What motivated you to found Crypto Invest Summit?

We’ve been hosting conferences for some time now in the crowdfunding space and felt like there was an opportunity to enter the token ecosystem and bring some of the brightest minds in the field together. Our research showed that many people were hungry to learn more about the topic, so what better way to educate yourself than being surrounded by over 4,500 crypto-fanatics. We wanted to create a conference that people would feel proud attending and tell their friends about. After Alon and I traveled to various other crypto related summits, we noticed that there wasn’t one that brought all the components of a great conference together; so we created Crypto Invest Summit, the largest blockchain and cryptocurrency conference on the west coast.

What makes this event unique?

Crypto Invest Summit spans across two stages over two and half days, one of which is an Initial Coin Offering Pitch stage where ICO’s will have 10 minutes to present their projects to willing investors. Unlike most other conferences in the field, our primary goal is to bring blockchain investment opportunities and investors in the same room and create an environment where ICOs can effectively get their message out, and investors have the opportunity to meet with founders face to face. Also, the conference is being held in one of the fastest growing cities for tech, so you can bet that you’ll be surrounded by top-tier talent. In addition, we’re stoked to showcase the leading women in blockchain, with honorable speakers such as Veronica Reynolds, Jenny Ta, and Tavonia Evans to name a few.

How will attending Crypto Invest Summit benefit investors, startups, and business professionals?

Investors and ICOs will meet, deals will be closed, and networks will grow, that’s for sure. With over 4,500 people attending, nothing compares to in-person meetings and networking with the top-tier business and technology leaders.

What networking opportunities will attendees have?

Every moment is a networking opportunity at Crypto Invest Summit. With that being said, we can’t wait for attendees to unwind with one another during day one’s Kick Off Party and day two’s Expo Floor Networking Party. We’ve designed these parties to commemorate networking so that you can be sure of a great time.

What types of insights can attendees expect to take away from the summit?

We’re looking forward to having a fireside chat Brock Pierce and Tim Draper, and hearing from over 60 world-class speakers like Brian Fargo, David Bleznak, Steve Beauregard, Baron Davis, Davis Moss and many more. We’ll be discussing various topics such as cybersecurity with Leemon Baird of Hashgraph, social good with Devin Thorpe of Forbes, blockchain in eSports and gaming with Alex Kokhanovskyy, becoming a successful crypto investor, tokenization debates, and a various legal and regulatory issues, to name a few.

Do you have any advice for attendees who have never been to a cryptocurrency-related conference before?

I remember my first conference, I felt really lost with a lot of the panel discussions and overwhelmed with the majority of topics. Luckily we’ve designed Crypto Invest Summit to accompany all levels of expertise, with topics ranging from beginner to advance. Our efforts show as we’ve already attracted a diverse audience who look forward to learning from one another. Don’t be discouraged from entering a field you know nothing about because the fastest way to learn something is by surrounding yourself with people who know the subject better than you do.

cryptoblockcon

The future of Blockchain is top of the agenda at CryptoBlockCon Los Angeles, taking place April 4-5 at Hudson Loft, downtown.

Highlights of the event will include keynotes with Crystal Rose, Miko Matsumura, and William Quigley, and panel discussions discussing future benefits of blockchain; the technology, the currencies and market activity for the coming year.

As a BlockExplorer reader, you can save 25% on your ticket by entering the code BlockExplorer25 at registration.

CryptoBlockCon co-founder CJ Smith was kind enough to take the time to answer a few questions about the event. A transcript of the interview is reproduced below.

Interview with CryptoBlockCon Co-founder CJ Smith

What motivated you to found CryptoBlockCon?

cryptoblockcon
CryptoBlockCon Co-Founder CJ Smith

Blockchain technology, and in particular decentralization, has the potential to impact and improve almost any industry. New and disruptive technologies have always captivated me, and blockchain is not only disruptive but has the ability to save lives in the healthcare industry by allowing doctors to get informations quicker and with higher accuracy, it has the ability to provide bank accounts and credit to people who do not have access, and will provide transparency and security for industries which need it most.

Todd, my business partner, owns and has owned and sold many conferences, one of which I also work for. He and I have spoken about blockchain and bitcoin since the day we met, and blockchain technology in particular is something which we are both very passionate about. Last September we started talking about holding a blockchain a cryptocurrency conference, as it seemed like a natural fit between our interests and professional experience, and we want to help educate, connect, and create conversations around this technology. We held our first event in Las Vegas, December of 2017, as a proof of concept, and the rest was history!

What makes CryptoBlockCon events unique?

First, we have many friends and professional connections in the blockchain space which will help differentiate us from other blockchain and cryptocurrency events. We know that any event is only as good as its content and attendees.

Second, we’ve held many events, varying in size, and we know what works well and what doesn’t when it comes to producing a conference. We know how to create a large yet intimate experience, and we know how to help facilitate dialogue and create a community, as opposed to a lecture hall. We will hold opening and closing receptions, again focusing on community. CryptoBlockCon will also provide entertainment for attendees like music, because a good experience is all about the right balance.

How will attending CryptoBlockCon benefit investors, startups, and business professionals?

Investors will learn from other professional investors on our investor panel, will listen to ICO pitches during our ICO pitch competition, and will meet many startups and entrepreneurs in the blockchain space.

Startups will be able to learn from professional investors about how to appeal to potential investors and raise capital, as well as meet developers, and learn from other entrepreneurs and startups using blockchain technology.

What networking opportunities will attendees have?

For the Los Angeles event, April 4-5, we will hold a ‘blockchain and bourbon’ event during one of the evening receptions. The founder of the world’s largest bourbon database will show his creation, which lives on the blockchain, and everyone will all be able to try some of the bourbons. It’s experiences like this which help bring people together before and after an event and solidify relationships. We also provide lunch so people do not need to leave the venue, we will have a small exhibit floor for people to learn about different companies and talk to their teams, and we put a lot of emphasis on the venue we select which many event organizers fail to do. The venue dictates the flow of the overall show, and really impacts the overall experience for attendees.

What types of insights can attendees expect to take away from CryptoBlockCon?

For the Los Angeles event, some of our featured panels will be discussing investing in blockchain startups, blockchain impacting the music industry, the ability to digitally send wealth and assets, ethics and humanitarianism with blockchain, and SEC compliance for ICOs. Attendees will learn from seasoned blockchain entrepreneurs and experts about real world blockchain applications, meet developers, listen to ICO pitches, and network with some of the brightest minds in the blockchain industry.

Correction:

On March 14th, BlockExplorer incorrectly reported that Sierra Leone became the first country to use a blockchain to capture votes during a presidential election. This article will clarify the extent of Agora’s involvement in Sierra Leone’s election.

What is Agora?

Agora is a Swiss-based voting technology company that has developed an end-to-end verifiable voting solution for governments and institutions. Their mission involves spreading fair and transparent elections around the world using blockchain technology.

The Claims

The company, Agora, claimed to have run the first blockchain-based election in Sierra Leone. Meanwhile, the company just observed the results and entered the data into their blockchain.

The Facts

— National Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone (@NECsalone) March 19, 2018
  • The National Electoral Commission (NEC) accredited Agora as an international observer of the March 2018 Sierra Leone presidential election.
  • Official election results only come from the NEC.
  • Agora’s results were published on our website five days before the end of the official manual count carried out by the NEC
  • The company’s results are very close to the NEC’s published results.
  •  The goal was to have this election demonstrate the company’s capabilities and open the door for further cooperation with the NEC in the future.

Honest Mistake or PR Stunt?

Prior to the NEC’s statement, Agora CEO Leonardo Gammar stated, “This is the first time a government election is using blockchain technology.” The misleading statement soon made headlines drawing praise from the blockchain community. The company has since taken to Medium to clarify its involvement and address criticism. Agora’s proof of concept demonstrates the potential of blockchain-based voting systems, however, the world’s first election officially using a blockchain is yet to occur.