Peter Martin was asked point blank how he could impact the world and his response put him on the path to reshape how we exercise one of our most cherished rights – how we vote.
Mr. Martin is the founder and CEO of Votem, a revolutionary mobile platform designed to securely cast votes in elections across the globe.
The Votem story began in 2014. After selling his consulting business, Mr. Martin attended a conference hosted by XPrize founder Peter Diamandis. In one exercise participants were challenged to create an idea that would be their legacy, one that would impact one billion people. After much thought, Mr. Martin wrote down mobile voting.
“The more I looked at it the more I said voting is absolutely broken around the world,” Mr. Martin began. “It’s essentially been conducted the same way for the past 60 years.
“Mobile is clearly the future and how we vote is a problem that needs to be fixed.”
The revelation was but the first step in a long process that saw Mr. Martin speak to hundreds of people involved with election systems, everyone from secretaries of state to those who buy systems, to entrepreneurs who tried and failed.
Then Votem went to the crowd. In 2015 they organized a $230,000 global innovative challenge in conjunction with InnoCentive that invited experts from around the world to submit detailed architectures for a mass hack-proof voting system. More than 100 submissions were received from 32 countries with the winner, a Canadian blockchain-based solution, forming the foundation for Votem’s revolutionary system.
So far Votem’s system has been used in 12 private elections with a total of eight million votes recorded on its private blockchain. That total includes a fan vote for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, commissioned after that organization was victimized by a hack resulting in a fraudulent vote.
“The Votem election went off without a hitch,” Mr. Martin said.
Mr. Martin said the Votem team was warned that it would be hard to break into the political election network.
“Some inertia exists in the space. On one hand you think you can bank on your phone, why can’t you vote that way?
“Folks were quick to say that banks can set aside reserves for fraud and you can’t do that with votes. They take a conservative approach and rightly so.”
In 2016 Votem purchased a Michigan-based company that helps conduct military and overseas voting for presidential elections. They believe that will help them gain traction in the industry.
So will framing Votem’s strengths in ways election personnel will understand. While blockchain powers Votem’s back-end technology, the discussion centres around the ability to have fully verifiable results, ones that even allow individual voters the ability to confirm their vote was actually counted.
Associations, trade and labour unions actively poll their members on matters ranging from internal elections to different board matters, Mr. Martin said. There are varying levels of regulation depending on the specific organization, and Votem’s systems can exceed all expectations.
One of the many benefits of using Votem technology is the immutability or the results, and those results come fast, Mr. Martin said. While it can take up to three days for an accountancy to audit a vote, with Votem results can be certified within one hour.
“Our long-term vision for where we can take voting globally is to provide independent parties with trusted nodes that enable them to validate votes in real time,” Mr. Martin said. Those nodes include each party, individual candidates, and advocacy groups.
“It helps build consensus, and convinces the loser they lost.”
Voters can register to vote by confirming their identity by providing information that can be validated against that held in the jurisdiction’s database, Mr. Martin said. Perhaps a voter has to enter their full legal name, the last four digits of their SSN or their driver’s license number. Once authorized they receive the appropriate ballot containing all the candidacies and measures for their district. Each ballot is encrypted and sent to the central system where they are digitally shuffled and decrypted.
Bankless Times was paid less than $500 in United States currency by Votem for preparation and publication of this article.