Historic Milestone: First Ranked Choice Mobile Blockchain Vote in U.S. Election History (10/16/19)

We are delighted to announce that a little piece of US election history was created on October 16, 2019 when the first ever ranked choice vote was recorded on a mobile blockchain voting platform. The ballot was cast by a UOCAVA voter from Payson City in Utah County.

Update: (11/24/19) – The Associated Press/Salt Lake Tribune has more here about the RCV pilot in Utah County.

Here’s an earlier post on how the Voatz platform supports Ranked Choice Voting in a highly accessible manner. We are excited to see the expansion of RCV across the nation.

Utah County Expands Mobile Voting to Include Voters With Disabilities

We are delighted to announce that Utah County has broadened the eligibility in the ongoing mobile voting pilot as part of the 2019 Municipal General Elections to include voters with disabilities, marking the first time mobile voting will be offered to U.S. citizens other than military and overseas voters.

“This is the first election where we are expanding mobile voting for the disability community and providing them the option to vote from their mobile device,” said Bradley Tusk, founder and CEO of Tusk Philanthropies. “We are making voting accessible to new communities, increasing voter turnout, conducting new pilots and auditing that each election to ensure that votes cast over the blockchain are recorded accurately.”

“We commend election officials, like those in Utah County, who are providing options to voters with diverse needs with this exciting pilot project. We regularly hear from voters with disabilities who need accommodations in order to vote privately and independently, that they value their civic right and duty to vote,” said Sherri Newton, Voting Advocate at the Disability Law Center. “However, the barriers involved with traveling to a polling place make it difficult to vote, which can require them to miss work or can be a threat to their health and safety. These voters are excited about the availability of new, developing technologies that allow them to securely vote at home from their own device, just like many other Utahns have seen with the option of voting by mail.”

The November mobile voting is a continued collaboration between the Utah County Elections Division, Voatz, Tusk Philanthropies and the National Cybersecurity Center. Read the official press release from Tusk Philanthropies here. Eligible voters are able to participate in the 2019 municipal general election by opting in to vote electronically on their smartphones. Voters will fill out an absentee ballot request, complete their identity authentication and verification on the Voatz application, and submit their ballot for the election. Voting began September 20, 2019 and continues through 8:00 pm on Election Day, November 5, 2019.

“By including the disability community in the expansion of mobile voting in Utah County, we are enabling an entire community to vote anonymously, privately, and securely from the comfort of their own home using their own accessible device,” said Forrest Senti, Director of Business and Government Initiatives of the National Cybersecurity Center. “We look forward to collaborating with Utah County and the disability community to conduct the post-election audit to ensure votes cast over the blockchain are recorded accurately.”

“Election officials in Utah County are leading the way when it comes to improving absentee voting methods for citizens with disabilities, deployed military personnel and citizens living overseas,” said Nimit Sawhney, CEO and co-founder of Voatz. “Getting to polling locations, marking a paper ballot, and communicating with election officials are just a few of the challenges that citizens with disabilities face with the traditional voting process. By taking advantage of the various accessibility features available on modern smartphones and tablets, mobile voting provides a safe, private and convenient channel for citizens with disabilities to play a more active role in our democratic process.”

Recently, the Utah County Election Division hosted a livestream with NCC publicly auditing the municipal primary election. The public audit can be viewed here. For more information on the audit and how it was conducted, download the full report and from the National Cybersecurity Center here.

Voatz Partners with Utah County on Mobile Voting Pilot for 2019 Municipal Elections

We are delighted to announce the launch of a new pilot program today with Utah County that will provide mobile voting secured by the blockchain to deployed military personnel and overseas United States citizens during the 2019 municipal elections this year.

We commend the Utah County team for seeking new, innovative technologies to improve our election infrastructure and provide secure, auditable, transparent voting options for voters. With this pilot program, Utah County is leading the effort in the State of Utah to make voting more convenient and accessible for deployed military personnel and overseas US citizens. The latest developments in smartphone hardware, encryption and blockchain technology make mobile voting a reality. This is a significant stepping stone that we hope many other states and cities will follow.

Eligible deployed military and overseas voters from 21 cities in Utah County will have the option to vote with their smartphones from almost anywhere in the world. By using the Voatz application on their mobile phones, they will forgo the time-consuming process of mailing in an absentee ballot, will receive an auditable confirmation, and will be able to verify their vote within seconds of voting.

With each of these pilots, we learn valuable feedback and continue to integrate and build with forward progress. Utah County is learning from the recent experiences of the City & County of Denver and the State of West Virginia, and the lessons we learn from this pilot will inevitably produce valuable feedback that we will continue to welcome and integrate.

The Utah County mobile voting option will be offered in addition to the current absentee options (mail, fax, and email). For uniformed military and overseas citizens, jurisdictions are required by law to send the ballot to voters 45 days prior to the election, allowing sufficient time for the ballots to be returned and counted. Ballots sent to participating voters using the Voatz application will be received within minutes, rather than days or sometimes weeks, and can be returned to the jurisdiction the instant the voter submits their ballot. The ballots that the jurisdiction receives are formatted, printed, and tabulated per standard procedure, and contain an anonymous ID that can be used for a rigorous post-election audit.

To use the Voatz platform, eligible voters must submit an absentee ballot request to their election office indicating a preference for mobile voting, and then complete an authentication process on the Voatz application.

The pilot is a collaboration between Voatz, Utah County, Tusk Philanthropies, and the National Cybersecurity Center. To learn more, read the press releases from Tusk Philanthropies.