Voting from the Sky: The First Mobile Blockchain Vote in History

VICENZA, ITALY — Scott Warner stares out the window, 1,200 feet above the ground, loud jet engines whirring in the background and wide expanse of earth stretching out along the distant, hazy horizon.

Like a cavity in the bottom of a canyon, trees, specs of cattle, grasslands and hills pass by, peacefully threaded together by roads and waterways, woven together into the quiet makeup of a quilted landscape.

Warner yells to his comrades and, in the midst of the commotion, catches a moment — here they are, all of them, floating above the surface and hovering, miraculously, in these moments between space and time.


Suddenly the door opens and a deafening burst of air rushes into the plane, alerting the paratroopers that it’s nearly game time. The aircraft banks, Warner steadies himself with his static line, already hooked up to the cable running the length of the aircraft.

He stares at his comrades, feeling the exhilarating force of the whirling air and before he can think, he’s at the door.


Pack strapped on back, helmet buckled tightly beneath chin, Warner hands off his static line and silently counts down.



And he’s off, with a slap from the jumpmaster and the full strength of his body, launching out the door, jostled by the blast of wind, and catapulting into the abyss beneath with only a string, pack and a parachute — God willing — to carry him safely down.


^Captain Scott Warner lives in Vicenza, Italy


This is Warner’s world, and his life is not his own. Laid at the feet of duty, Warner has signed up for a life of service and thrown his heart into the ring like so many before, feeling the pull of the call.

“My whole family has served in some form — sisters, brother, dad, uncles, cousins, grandfathers.”

Indeed, Warner comes from a long lineage of service. Both grandfathers served in the army, his paternal grandfather from 1944-1946 with another 13 years between ROTC and the reserves. His maternal grandfather served 15 years, split between active duty and the reserves. His dad, now Secretary of State in West Virginia, graduated from the United States Military Academy and served for 23 years. His older brother and sister also graduated from West Point and served in the Army.

But Warner, a young man full of calm conviction, made the decision to join on his own.

“I grew up being raised with two values at the forefront — faith and service. I’d always known about the Army from so many in my family having joined, but my parents never tried to force it on me. In fact, if they had I probably would’ve done the opposite.

“When I applied to West Point I prayed about it, felt a sense of peace and adventure about it, and decided, ‘Yeah, this is right for me.’”


^A legacy of service (from left): Secretary of State Mac Warner, Brother (Steven), Mother (Debbie), Captain Scott Warner


Warner just entered his fifth year in service and was recently promoted to the rank of “Captain”. Currently stationed in Italy, he works on a military base but spends most days at the whim of a paratrooper’s schedule, whether traveling to countless countries for training or jumping from jets.

“I’ve definitely had my moments. You know, when it’s 2:00AM, you’re standing in the middle of the German wilderness in late October and it’s sleeting and raining and just awful outside, it’s hard to not ask yourself, “Why in the world am I doing this?”

“But what keeps me going are the relationships. My parents always taught us that no matter where you go or what you do, it’s the people you meet and the relationships you form that truly matter. I’ve definitely found that to be true. Being there for my buddies and for my Soldiers is what keeps me motivated to keep pushing.”

For Warner, faith, a deep sense of connection and purpose have always been guiding forces — both in the way he navigates his commitment to service, and also how he considers his duties as a citizen.

“My parents have always been engaged with politics, and they wanted to make sure we understood the underlying framework so we could educate ourselves and vote.”

Warner and his siblings grew up going to Camp Lincoln, a summer camp where kids learn about the U.S. two-party system, build leadership skills for the future and participate in a mock model congress.

“Growing up, I definitely knew voting and politics mattered. I knew it was important to know who we were electing, who was forming our laws and controlling our government. And I understood that if I wanted to have a say, I’d have to voice it at the ballot box.”


^Captain Warner with his parents (Secretary of State Mac Warner and Mrs. Debbie Warner)


When Warner was in school at West Point, he didn’t vote — the registration logistics of being in a new state and at military school were admittedly too cumbersome amidst the demanding schedule.

Now, serving overseas in the military where the only options to vote are via mail, fax, or email, and where Warner is at the whim of his training schedule, voting might have also posed a challenge.



But early in 2018, Warner’s dad — West Virginia’s Secretary of State — phoned him up. He was excited, and he had an idea.

“I remember when my Dad started telling me about it — he’d always been passionate about getting voter registration cleaned up across the state,” Warner said.

“He told me about how he was trying to work toward making it easier for out of state voters (particularly military service members) to vote — ‘to make it easy to vote but hard to cheat’. For me, for him, for all of our family and those in the army, this was a big deal.”

In early 2018, Secretary of State Mac Warner — Scott Warner’s father — launched a small pilot with just two counties in West Virginia for the primaries in March. Overseas citizens, military and their dependents from these two counties would be able to vote using their smartphones with the Voatz application.


^Captain Warner


Scott Warner was the first, ever, to vote in a U.S. Federal Election using a smartphone backed by blockchain technology, and he did so on March 18, 2018 from Vicenza, Italy. He’d completed an airborne operation earlier that day, went home, downloaded the app, verified his identity, and made his selections.

“The whole thing was pretty simple. It still took a little bit of back and forth to get registered, but once I got the app downloaded and my account verified, I remembered thinking it was very intuitive, easy to use, and easy to make my selections. I also thought it was a cool use of facial recognition technology to verify my identity by matching me to my government issued ID.”

For Warner, the biggest help was to doing it on his own time.

“In any given week I have a lot going on. Today, we’re on an airborne operation and I could be back at a reasonable hour, or the weather could change and our timeline could get pushed late into the night. Our schedules are pretty chaotic.

“To not have to keep coming back to a process — like getting an application, receiving that, mailing this, postmarking by this date — is key. If it’s a multistep process with days in-between the steps, it’s so easy to do the first few parts, leave for training, and forget the last bit.

“So to be able to knock out voting on your own time and all at once — that’s pretty sweet. It was significantly easier than my alternatives.”

For Warner, the added benefit, too, was preserving his anonymity.

“When you’re mailing or emailing your ballot, you lose that anonymity, but with this, my choices remain anonymous — that was extremely important.”

Later in 2018, when Secretary Warner opened mobile voting to 24 counties for the Midterms, Warner voted again.

“When I told my peers and colleagues about voting with my smartphone, they were impressed and jealous. They wanted to know how I did it and wished they could do the same. I felt proud I could brag about West Virginia leading the way.

“In the end, democracy only works if you actually get the full cross-section of the population to participate. If our voting system only turns out 40-50%, then we’re missing a huge part of the population. If we do everything through our phones — credit card transactions, healthcare — why not use them to encourage greater participation?

“It’s important to maintain the freedom we have, and the point of democracy is getting the input of all people. Why not try to make it work?”


We thank Scott Warner for his contributions to this piece.

Voatz Raises $7 Million Series A Led by Medici Ventures and Techstars

BOSTON, June 6, 2019 — Voatz, a mobile-focused voting and citizen engagement platform, announced today that it has raised $7 million in Series A funding led by Medici Ventures and Techstars with participation from Urban Innovation Fund and Oakhouse Partners. The company plans to leverage the funds to enhance the accessibility and usability of its technology, and to grow its security footprint as it launches new pilot programs with states, cities and select international jurisdictions.

Voatz enables citizens to vote in many types of elections and voting events via a secured smartphone or tablet. Earlier this year in March 2019, the company announced a new pilot program with the City and County of Denver, CO to expand absentee voting for deployed military personnel and overseas US citizens during the city’s 2019 municipal elections, which concluded successfully earlier this week. Last year, Voatz also conducted a successful pilot with 24 counties in West Virginia during the 2018 Midterm Elections where deployed military personnel and overseas US citizens leveraged the platform to cast their ballots. This pilot represented the first time that mobile voting secured by a blockchain-based infrastructure had ever been used in a US Federal Election.

“Voting is a great application of blockchain technology,” said Medici Ventures President Jonathan Johnson. “What Voatz is doing to allow more registered voters to participate remotely in elections in a safe and secure way is important. It bodes well for more widespread adoption of the Voatz application. That’s one reason we’ve increased our investment in the company by leading this Series A round.”

“Techstars has been impressed with the vision and drive demonstrated by the Voatz team since their participation in the Techstars Boston Accelerator in 2017. We are thrilled to continue to support Voatz on their mission to modernize the technology of voting and to improve the voting experience for constituents around the world,” said Techstars Partner Cody Simms, who is joining the company’s board as part of this round.

The Voatz platform uses biometrics, encryption and blockchain technology to increase convenience, security and auditability to election systems. In addition to the pilot programs with Denver and West Virginia, Voatz has partnered with state political parties, universities, labor unions, church groups and nonprofits to administer elections using its platform.

“Voatz has the potential to revolutionize the way we vote. By providing access through a mobile device, Voatz can dramatically increase citizen participation, and the company is committed to ensuring everyone votes safely and securely. We’re excited to back Voatz to make voting more accessible and secure,” said Urban Innovation Fund Managing Partner Julie Lein.

“Many of the key issues facing the world today cannot be addressed until we have functioning democracies with high levels of citizen participation. The Voatz election platform provides a radically more inclusive and secure voting process and the team’s progress has been incredible. Programs with states like West Virginia and cities like Denver make it clear that Voatz is on the right track for delivering large scale impact and we are incredibly excited to continue supporting their growth,” said Andrew Maguire, Investing Partner at Oakhouse Partners.

“We are delighted and grateful for the continued support of our existing and new investors to help us accelerate the development and deployment of our technology,” said Voatz Co-Founder & CEO Nimit Sawhney. “We are committed to the steady progress of mobile voting backed by blockchain technology to improve our election infrastructure and make remote voting more accessible and safer.”

About Voatz
Voatz is an award-winning mobile elections platform that is changing the way the world votes. Backed by military-grade security and cutting-edge technology (including biometrics and blockchain infrastructure), Voatz enables smartphone and tablet voting to increase accessibility and security in elections. Since 2016, Voatz has run 39 elections with towns, cities, states, both major state political parties, colleges and universities, and unions. More recently, Voatz conducted the first mobile blockchain vote in US Federal Election history in partnership with the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office to empower deployed military and overseas citizens to vote in the 2018 Primary Elections (2 counties) and the 2018 Midterm Elections (24 counties). In March 2019, Voatz was selected by the City/County of Denver, CO to pilot mobile blockchain voting for deployed military and overseas citizens during its 2019 Municipal General Election. Learn more at

About Medici Ventures:
Launched in 2014, Medici Ventures is a wholly owned subsidiary of, Inc., created to leverage blockchain technology to solve real-world problems with transparent, efficient and secure solutions. Medici Ventures has a growing portfolio of groundbreaking blockchain-focused investments, including, Peernova, Bitt, SettleMint, Factom, and IdentityMind, Spera and Symbiont. The company’s majority-owned financial technology company,, executed the world’s first blockchain-based stock offering in December 2016.

This press release contains certain forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Such forward-looking statements include all statements other than statements of historical fact. Additional information regarding factors that could materially affect results and the accuracy of the forward-looking statements contained herein may be found in the Company’s Form 10-Q for the quarter ended March 31, 2019, which was filed with the SEC on May 9, 2019, and any subsequent filings with the SEC.

Voatz PR

Gavin Mathis
Method Communications

Insights into a Public Citizen’s Audit for Denver’s 2019 Municipal Election

DENVER, CO — Two weeks ago, the City of Denver closed the polls for its Municipal elections. For the first time, it ran a pilot program with Voatz to allow overseas citizens, military personnel and their dependents to vote from their mobile devices.

Military voters and citizens around the world were able to download the Voatz app, use their mobile devices to verify their identity, securely and anonymously cast their votes, and verify that their vote was counted correctly.


What is an audit?

A post-election audit is a process to ensure that the equipment and procedures used to count votes during an election worked properly, and that the election yielded the correct outcome.

In the case of Denver’s pilot with Voatz, to ensure integrity in the vote transmission process, every ballot submitted through the Voatz system generated three records to facilitate a robust post-election audit (see Figure 1):

^Figure 1: Three records are produced at the time of voting to facilitate a rigorous post-election audit


  1. A Voter-Verified Digital Receipt (VVDR), signed with an Anonymous ID (AnonID), is sent to the voter at the time of voting to verify her selections (and copied to the jurisdiction)
  2. A Tabulated Ballot, formatted for printing, is tabulated on Election Day using the jurisdiction’s voting machines (signed with same AnonID)
  3. The Blockchain Records of the votes are stored as “transactions” and bundled as blocks on the blockchain


The City of Denver ran an unprecedented post-election audit at the close of the Election, which was open to the public and used these three ballot records to verify the flow of information and accuracy in every step of ballot submission and transmission.

Information was verified from the voter’s device to the blockchain, from the blockchain to the ballot, and from the ballot to the tabulation system, confirming that there was no malfeasance, interruption, or disruption of data.


How does the audit work?

The audit has three steps, which correspond to the three records produced by each ballot:

1)   Verify that the anonymous IDs match between the Voter-Verified Digital Receipt (VVDRs) and the tabulated ballot

^Image showing the match between the Anonymous IDs signed on both documents.


2)   Once anonymous IDs are verified, verify the selections between the VVDR, tabulated ballot, and the jurisdiction’s tabulation export

^Image showing the comparison between the Voter-Verified Digital Receipt (middle pane), sent to the voter upon submission to verify her choices and copied to the jurisdiction, and the ballot printed on Election Day for tabulation. Both contain the same Anonymous ID and selections.


3)   Verify that the vote transactions stored on the blockchain match the VVDR selections

^Image showing the comparison between the Voter Verified Digital Receipt choices and the data on the blockchain. Each ballot’s choices are stored as “transactions”, bundled across multiple blocks. Each transaction (UUID) corresponds to a choice.


What’s it like to conduct an audit?

Several independent third party auditors signed up to complete the audit. Here are reflections from three students who conducted the audit.

Orlando Alomá, Postgraduate at Hult International Business School

My name is Orlando Alomá and I am a postgraduate student at Hult International Business School in Cambridge, MA. I come from a finance background and my passion is to research and learn how startups work and grow.

The audit is a manual process that requires great attention to detail and concentration. There were 119 ballots that needed to be verified through the audit process and it took me about four days to complete it. This was my first audit experience ever, so I had no idea what to expect at the beginning. Luckily, the steps and process of the audit are easy and well-explained in instructional slides and a video. After watching the video, it was clear to me that the audit was going to be an easy but time-consuming task.

Performing the audit is an excellent way to get to understand how the Voatz system works because it will show you the process for how information gets recorded and stored in the system. The hardest part of the audit was the verification of the blockchain records, because it required the most steps to complete. The easiest part of the audit was verifying the anonymous IDs because they were all done in the same window tab and required no copy and pasting commands.

It was surprising to me that some people decided to leave questions blank and abstain from voting in certain races. For example, many ballots had no selection for Clerk and Recorder. This means that the voter chose not to vote for anyone on this race. This surprised me because if you are casting a vote for other races but decide not to vote for one specific race, it might mean that they do not approve of any candidates listed on the ballot, however, this is my personal assumption and it might not be accurate.

Personally, I believe that an online mobile voting system like Voatz can be very beneficial for people because it allows voters to anonymously cast their votes from their mobile devices and it can securely record the votes on the blockchain. In the future, the Voatz mobile voting application can make the voting process a lot easier and more accessible for everyone.


Yugma Patel, Masters of International Business at Hult International Business School

My name is Yugma Patel and I am currently a candidate for Masters of International Business at Hult International Business School in Cambridge, MA. I chose to pursue an International Business degree in order to gain leadership development and to potentially work in cross-cultural organizations. Being exposed to different cultures and backgrounds provides an opportunity to adapt a broader vision. That is why I am passionate about learning new things and helping people in all settings.

I had never done an audit before, so this was my first time auditing election results. It was a lengthy experience. It took about three and a half days to complete the audit. Going through each step I had to be careful and make sure there were no discrepancies between the CVR with the VVDRs or ballot images. The hardest part was making sure everything matched across all sources (VVDRs, blockchain data, CVR). The easiest  part was having all the information in one place (the audit suite). I was surprised at how the anonymous ID was generated, and also that there was no mention of an individual through the audit. In our current era, technology is quickly emerging into different industries; to see Voatz working to provide a new way of voting from an age-old method demonstrates that technology can provide the people to carry out their basic democratic rights.


Ben Trout, Sophomore at Brigham Young University

My name is Ben Trout, I am a Sophomore studying cybersecurity at Brigham Young University in Provo, UT. I chose to pursue a career in cybersecurity because I love to apply technology to solving problems in the world, and with regards to the cybersecurity field there is a lot of opportunity for development in that regard. In high school I was a programmer for a robotics team and I loved overcoming the challenges presented to my team in those competitions and I have been passionate about the technology field ever since.

This was my first time doing an audit of any kind and I did not know what to expect going into it. Overall I did not think that the audit was a hard thing to do, however it was very time consuming. The documentation and instructions given about how to do the audit were clear and having the audit suite, which centralized access to all the necessary materials, made the process easier.

The hardest part of the audit for me was checking to make sure that the votes within the blockchain matched what was on the ballot. It required a lot of steps that had to be done in order and I sometimes lost track of which block was next to look at in the chain.

I was surprised that the blocks on the blockchain stored the votes in random order for each ballot, so each contest’s vote was stored in a different order for each ballot, which I think makes the system more secure. I have always thought that technology should be involved in democracy if it could be secured. This audit experience was a demonstration to me that we have a secure system that can be used for elections, and with it, it makes the democratic process accessible to more people that could not previously participate for accessibility reasons.


Interested in participating in the audit? Sign up here by July 3, 2019.

National Conference of State Legislatures:

We thank the three students who shared their audit experience.