Voatz Successfully Completes Its 2022 Elections in the US & Canada

For Immediate Release

Boston, MA / North Bay, ON – November 11, 2022: Voatz announces the successful completion of its elections in the US and Canada as part of the 2022 election cycle. Nearly half a million voters were eligible to use the Voatz system during this election cycle across multiple jurisdictions.

Voatz Track Record

As of this release, Voatz has successfully completed 115 elections and enabled more than 2.1 million voters to cast their ballots in a secure, accessible manner using the convenience of their personal devices. The Voatz team is extremely grateful for the trust and support it has received from various election officials, administrators and voters globally.

“Our team has been working tirelessly to expand access and security in elections.” said a Voatz spokesperson. “We strongly believe that technologies such as ours can play a significant role in rebuilding trust and making the electoral process safer and truly accessible for all. The groundwork to conduct large scale online elections has now been laid and we are super excited to embrace the opportunities ahead.”

Voatz is at the forefront of providing accessible, secure remote voting for all citizens and has established itself as a global leader in delivering successful elections especially in high threat scenarios. Its award winning mobile first election system continues to receive high praise from citizens and administrators alike.

Voatz Testimonial
Voatz Testimonial

About Voatz 

Voatz is an award-winning mobile elections platform that leverages cutting-edge technology (including remote identity verification, biometrics and a blockchain-based infrastructure) to increase access, auditability and security in elections. Since 2016, Voatz has served more than 2.1 millions voters across 115 elections with national/state/municipal governments, universities, nonprofits, and major state political parties. Voatz specializes in delivering successful elections in high threat environments.

Key Milestone – Our 100th Election

On September 26th 2022, we kicked off our 100th election which also happened to be our first ever governmental election in Ontario, Canada.

As a new entrant to the Canadian market, we are delighted to be pioneering mobile first voting (running on a blockchain backed infrastructure) in the 2022 Ontario Municipal Elections across several jurisdictions.

Voatz 100th Election - 1st in Canada

We are grateful for the trust placed in us by election officials, administrators and electors. We look forward to a highly successful election cycle this year.

Updated 10/25/22 – Turnout in this milestone election increased from 38.46% (in 2018 where Voatz wasn’t used) to 43.55% in 2022. See details below:

Government Blockchain Association Releases Draft Standards for Remote Voting

Pioneering work towards standards development led by election officials and cybersecurity experts starts taking shape.

The GBA has released two products in August 2022 as part of this exercise. Multiple members of the Voatz team participated in this year long process and shared their expertise based on the extensive learnings from the field.

  • The GBA assembled industry experts to debate remote digital voting at an event called Blockchain & VotingConsequently, the participants agreed to draft a report comparing the functional and security considerations of available remote ballot return methods. The report can be downloaded at Remote Election Technology Report.

Read more on the GBA’s website here.

The City of Chandler Completes Successful Mobile Voting Pilot with Voatz

“This pilot program will help us identify the feasibility and interest of using this technology in future City elections, and Council believes this could enhance accessibility, increase voter participation and streamline the election process,” according to Mayor Kevin Hartke.

As part of the pilot program, officials with the City of Chandler asked residents to download an app and vote in the mock election, where those who participated answered questions about city bonds, and whether or not they’d use the technology in a real election.

The results, as well as the auditing process, was instantaneous.

“You remember in 2018 and 2020, we had these ballot dumps in the middle of the night, and these big events where we didn’t know the results for weeks. With blockchain, it’s instantaneous and it’s auditable,” said Chandler Vice Mayor Mark Stewart.

The results were audited in real-time, printing and matching ballots from the online ledger.

The Voatz solution is showcased at the 2021 Comelec I-Voting Test Run for overseas Filipinos

Voting closed today for 669 overseas Filipinos invited to participate in an online voting test run organized by the country’s Commission on Elections (Comelec) and facilitated by Voatz. 

Under Republic Act No. 10590, also known as the Overseas Voting Act of 2013, Comelec has the jurisdiction to “explore other more efficient, reliable, and secure modes or systems, ensuring the secrecy and sanctity of the entire process, whether paper-based, electronic-based, or internet-based technology or such other latest technology available, for onsite and remote registration and elections.” In order to better understand the security of online voting systems and their accessibility for overseas voters, Comelec invited select voting providers to showcase their systems during test elections this fall. 

The Voatz system was showcased during a test election that lasted from September 11th to 13th. A mock ballot featuring celebrity candidates and a plebiscite-style question about mandatory Covid-19 vaccines was used to give participants the opportunity to test the system. Out of 669 volunteer participants, 348 cast their ballots before the test window closed. This 52.01% turnout surpassed what the country typically sees for its overseas voters, according to Comelec Director of Overseas Voting, Bea Wee-Lozada. Under the current system, overseas Filipinos can either cast their ballots in-person at Philippine consulates and embassies or pay the postal fees to return their ballots by mail. 

Voatz was honored to participate in the i-voting test run, which will be remembered as an important milestone in the country’s efforts to increase security and accessibility in elections. 

City of Chandler Arizona selects the Voatz solution for its 2021 Mobile Voting Pilot Program

At their meeting on August 26th, the City Council of Chandler Arizona voted unanimously to award a contract to Voatz for the City’s first Mobile Voting Pilot Program, scheduled to be held this November. Voatz is honored to be selected to facilitate this program in Chandler, which has previously been recognized as a community of innovation. We commend the City of Chandler, especially Vice Mayor Stewart who began spearheading this effort in 2019, for their willingness to embrace the role of emerging technologies in securing the future of elections.

Chandler’s mobile voting pilot is scheduled to last three weeks beginning on Tuesday, November 9th, and will come on the tail end of the City’s bond election earlier in the month. Though votes cast during the pilot will not be used to determine the outcome of the bond election, the pilot ballot will ask the same questions to mimic a ballot with which voters are already familiar. Additionally, the City plans to include some new questions on the pilot ballot which will gauge the public’s interest in alternative voting methods. Chandler teens aged 13-18 will also be allowed to participate in the pilot so that the results capture the sentiments of the next generation of voters.

The results of the election will be presented to the Chandler City Council in December, along with an evaluation of the success of the pilot. According to City documents, “one of the key goals of the pilot program is to evaluate the effectiveness of the auditing capability by encouraging citizens to participate in the process directly using the convenience and security of their smart devices.” 

A note on ADA’s 31st year anniversary

I am a blind Utahn and I’m proud to be part of a strong blind community that is socially, politically, and economically independent. Blind people use adaptive methods to live independently every day and in every possible way, and the last two decades have been particularly impactful on our community with incredible innovations in smartphones and intuitive voice recognition.

There are 50,000 Utahns and 1 million Americans like me. However, every time I try to vote, the process does not reflect the way I live the rest of my life and instead it is unnecessarily difficult. The disconnect is unacceptable.

Jeff Smith, Blind Voter, Salt Lake Tribune, February 17, 2021 

Jeff’s story is at the core of our mission: creating voter access for all. That mission serves democracy and is under threat. The technology exists to make voting accessible for people living with disabilities, but short-sighted legislation and regulations have made it needlessly difficult. 

A debate has emerged in which security and access have been pitted against each other. But our work has shown that it does not have to be this way. Our collaboration with election officials, researchers, and our case studies has shown that with advancements in mobile technology, blockchain, and monitoring we can keep critical infrastructure safe and be able to meet the needs of voters like Jeff.

The conversation needs to evolve. The very same critics who argued that any technology connected to the internet cannot be secured paradoxically argued that the last presidential election was the most secure to date, despite all the flaws in the traditional infrastructure.

This election was the best use case for increasing (not decreasing) the options for voting, including web-based voting and smartphone app-based voting, to bolster the strength of our democracy. 

After we’ve experienced, in the critics’ own words, the most secure elections to date, why would we move backward? Why would we revert to a time when the most vulnerable sections of society were effectively disenfranchised? Many critics purport to be scientists and advocates of research, innovation, and experimentation. This very absolutist attitude against any move forward goes against the very ethos of science. 

In January, 20 disability organizations urged lawmakers to exempt people with disabilities from the paper ballot mandate, noting that a paper ballot mandate would end all voting system innovation.  It would stop efforts to produce a fully accessible voting system that provides enhanced security without relying on inaccessible paper. 

Frustrated voting rights advocates have filed lawsuits to secure the ability for people to vote. The Southern Poverty Law Center sued Alabama officials on behalf of several voters with disabilities. A federal district court agreed with the arguments and lifted the challenging requirements. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit stayed that order.

When mobile voting is measured on the same yardstick as an absentee mail-in ballot for people with disabilities, here is how it stacks up:  

Voting MethodID PrivacyAudit
Mail-in ballot/ absentee ballotEmail confirmation Blind and voters with limited use of limbs – give us privacy Traditional risk-limiting audits, where voters do not  receive a ballot receipt and have no ability to audit the individual ballot
Mobile voting There is a 3-tiered ID verification Email, phone approval Video, photo and biometric confirmation Photo ID All voters will use devices already customized to them Complete end to end audit – with a voter receipt containing an anonymous ID that can be used to privately audit the ballot in a public citizens audit  

The recent election cycle has showcased beyond a doubt the urgency for voter engagement and building a chain of trust in our electoral processes; fundamental to that is ensuring that they can vote easily, privately, and securely. We invite you to join our movement to leverage technology to scale that access to more vulnerable voters. 

Case Study: Venezuela

The challenging political environment in Venezuela reached a crisis point in December 2020, when Juan Guaidó (the internationally recognized leader) and the National Assembly challenged incumbent Nicolás Maduro’s presidency through a referendum: a popular consultation with its citizens. It was also an historic moment, as the call for change came from Venezuelans both inside and outside the country  – since 2014, over five million Venezuelans have fled the country amid the violence and threats of the Maduro regime. Giving all these citizens a voice – and a vote – in a safe, secure, and auditable manner was the essential ingredient in challenging Maduro and his stranglehold on the country.

It was amidst this sensitive landscape that Boston-based mobile voting platform Voatz was selected by members of the Organizing Committee of the Popular Consultation (of Venezuela), on behalf of President Guaidó and the National Assembly, as the digital platform to conduct a free and fair referendum for Venezuelan voters between Dec 7th through Dec 12th, 2020.

How It Worked: 
This was the first-of-its-kind undertaking, allowing Venezuelans to digitally participate in a citizen’s consultation (referendum) at home and overseas – a breakthrough in modern democracy. This effort’s overwhelming response and success will serve as a road map for citizens across the world seeking a similar democratic action. 

The consultation platform was accessible through smartphone applications, web browser applications, and tablet applications and was also integrated with a third-party bot-based provider on Telegram. Participation was made convenient, accessible through the platform’s intuitive design and tutorials for those who needed additional help. The ballot asked three simple questions, allowing Venezuelans to safely and independently express support for President Guaidó and the National Assembly. 

Technology Overview:
The Organizing Committee of the Popular Consultation tasked Voatz with making this a secure, accessible voting system that would inspire trust and confidence among Venezuelans. Eligible citizens were verified using Venezuelan national IDs and live selfies. Voatz also provided a secure API for special access to bots running on encrypted messaging apps such as  Telegram, helped maintain voter anonymity, train voters, and poll workers, and facilitated a post-election risk-limiting audit using the blockchain.  

Nearly 6.5 million people participated in the referendum, with more than 1.7 million of those processed digitally through the Voatz platform, which makes this the largest voting exercise to use a mobile application and run on blockchain technology. Voters participated from 60 countries worldwide; more than 50% of the voters used smartphones (Android – 42%, iPhone -14%). An independent audit was conducted sampling 10% of the ballots to confirm that votes were cast and counted as intended. 100% of the ovals matched, thereby providing a high degree of statistical assurance regarding the accuracy of the final results. 

Given the sensitive nature of the project, Voatz was prepared to operate in the presence of cyber threats. The Voatz platform performed resiliently by identifying and blocking attacks as they occurred. Threats seen frequently in the field were broadly in the following categories – DNS tampering attempts, email spoofing, denial of service attacks, SMS blocking, man-in-the-middle attacks, device malware, suspicious mobile application, and unsafe wireless connections.

Social Media:

Media Coverage:
Associated Press: Maduro opponents claim big turnout in Venezuelan protest
France 24: Venezuela’s Guaido launches ‘popular consultation’ as Maduro tightens grip on power

Looking to the Future: A Renewed Call for Standards and Transparency for Access and Resiliency

We’ve pushed for standards in Remote Accessible Ballot Marking and Return through the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS): In January, we highlighted the urgency for these standards. We also seek to learn from election officials who pulled off a successful election despite all odds — and we highlight the need here, in Looking to the Future: A Renewed Call for Standards and Transparency for Access and Resiliency

This year’s advocacy was built on our case from last year to create comprehensive Standardization of Remote Ballot Marking & Return Through a Rigorous National Study & Examination.

Due to the widespread effects of the coronavirus pandemic, many voters were forced to depend on absentee ballots to safely participate in the 2020 U.S. presidential election. In the weeks and months leading up to Election Day, there were serious doubts about whether our nation’s electoral system was prepared to handle the rapid expansion of mail-in ballots under tremendous public pressure and with limited resources. 

In the end, Americans accustomed to having a definitive winner by the end of Election Day waited nearly a week for results, further weakening the public’s trust in our electoral system. 

We face a reckoning of the way our voting system currently works, with clear gaps in  resiliency and access. The United States has historically led the world in adopting and adapting to new technology. However, when it comes to elections and voting, we are behind, and comfortable with the status quo.

We trust computers powered by the internet to safely execute nearly every step of the electoral process, from registering voters to designing ballots to the printing and distributing mail-in-ballots. We even trust computers with our health, safety, and livelihood – to safely land airplanes and move money effortlessly across the globe in a matter of seconds.  Why we don’t take advantage of advanced technology to build resilience and expand security and accessibility in our elections? While mail-in-ballots are a practical option for some absentee voters, they are entirely unsuitable for others.   

Americans serving overseas and voters with disabilities need a different solution – one that does not depend on international post (which can be disrupted), electronic ballot return via email (which compromises security and anonymity), and systems that are inaccessible to voters with vision and mobility impairments. 

With advancements in smartphone technology, cryptography, biometrics, blockchain, and identity proofing mechanisms, secure Remote Ballot Marking and Return Systems have been successfully piloted in elections in the U.S. and abroad. To facilitate the continued development of these critical systems, a set of functional and security standards to certify Remote Ballot Marking and Return Systems must be created. We advocate for a thorough review and report of the current state of Remote Ballot Marking and Return Systems, companies in the sector, best practices on security, and a system of standards that can be adopted industry-wide.  

Furthermore, to ensure that progress and innovation in the elections industry meet the highly specific needs of our country’s electoral system, we advocate for the publication of a report on the challenges and outcomes of last year’s presidential election. The goal of this report should be to enable private vendors to respond to new findings, ensuring that the market for election solutions appropriately reflects the needs of our nation’s election officials. 

Who benefits from mobile voting?

While the pandemic has highlighted the desperate need for better remote voting options in the United States and other parts of the world, for many groups this lack of options is not a new concern. Voters with disabilities, overseas military personnel, Native Americans, and so many others lack equal access to the ballot during every single election – COVID-19 has only exacerbated an existing problem. Offering well-tested alternatives to traditional in-person and mail-in voting methods serves only to make our elections more equal and fair.

Bottom line: All citizens deserve access to a safe, secure, and accessible method of voting remotely – mobile voting can help us get there. 

To experience a full download of this graphic—with detailed explanations of how each demographic can benefit from mobile voting – click the button below.