In November 2018, our Director of Product, Hilary Braseth, delivered a talk for the Women in Blockchain group in Boston, Massachusetts.
The talk, “Elections & Blockchains: Can Technology Spark Democracy?”, explored the history and evolution of voter technology across the U.S. landscape, the four major challenges to a voting system, and a blockchain solution.
The talk sparked a lively discussion along with great interest to learn more about our systems of voting and the applicability of blockchain.
Charleston, W.Va. — Secretary of State Mac Warner is very pleased with the completion of the General Election pilot project that allowed deployed members of the military and overseas citizens to participate in our democracy by using a mobile voting application to cast ballots secured by blockchain technology.
Warner is a 23-year veteran of the United States Army. While deployed in 2012 and 2014, Warner was not able to vote back home in West Virginia because reliable postal service was unavailable. Until now, absentee voters living out of the country have relied on paper ballot absentees or inconvenient electronic systems that require a printer, scanner or fax machine. Those processes are very difficult and nearly impossible for soldiers to take advantage of while stationed in remote areas of the world.
According to a 2018 report by the Federal Voting Assistance Program, only 6.9 percent of eligible soldiers and overseas citizens cast a ballot in the 2016 Presidential General Election. With his personal experience in mind and stats that proved the problem is vast, one of Secretary Warner’s first challenges to his Elections Division was to eliminate the hurdles in overseas voting that contributed to the very low voter participation rate for our deployed military and overseas citizens.
Prior to the May 2018 Primary Election, the State of West Virginia partnered with Tusk Montgomery Ventures (TMV) and engaged a technology developer from Boston, Massachusetts to pilot their revolutionary mobile voting application. The company, Voatz Inc., created a system that utilizes biometric identity verification and blockchain technology to offer voters a secure option to vote through their mobile application.
“For the first time in our nation’s history, military and overseas citizens were able to cast ballots in a federal election using a mobile device. If this technology were not available, many of those soldiers and citizens would not have had the opportunity to participate in our democracy. This pilot will provide actual voting transactions for the independent auditors to review and analyze the first deployment of blockchain technology in an American election,” Warner said.
Read The Full Announcement Here
Several news publications also covered the pilot completion and you can access some of them via the links below:
The Town of Millis in Massachusetts piloted the Voatz platform for an innovative town meeting poll on Election Day (November 6, 2018).
“Voatz employees arrived early with plenty of staff, brought all equipment, and problem-solved issues (old building, poor WiFi connection, etc) throughout the day. They provided us results quickly and effectively and have remained in contact since the poll expired. Overall, we could not have asked for a better experience,” said the Town Meeting Review Committee.
We thank the 425 citizens of Millis who participated using their smartphones or the Voatz tablet stations.