The conversation of voter fraud and suppression in Florida, Arizona, and Georgia has lit up the news following the Nov. 6 midterm elections. With crucial states for each party in the balance, numerous lawsuits are attempting to figure out who the votes truly declare the winner as. Underneath the chaos is Voatz, the first mobile election system working to fix voting issues we currently deal with, which ran its first official test during the midterm elections.
Blockchain technology enters the voting space with the implementation of Voatz. Unlike mainstream perception likes to believe, blockchain and cryptocurrency are not a package deal. Yes, cryptocurrency needs the technology of blockchain to function, but blockchain is a separate tool that has man real world applications. Despite the integration of blockchain into everyday markets, cryptocurrency hasn’t been seeing the adoption many hoped for, as it’s virtually useless when it comes to everyday purchases like clothes, flights, or home improvement loans.
A Look at Voatz
Voatz was created to serve as a mobile system allowing secured voting abilities to active duty military personnel overseas. This service is only allowed on an ‘invitation only’ basis in which your election organizer has to request it. The startup began in Boston and, at a cybersecurity conference this past June, CEO and co-founder Nimit Sawhney went in-depth into the workings of Voatz.
“It’s a new way to vote…you don’t have to go through a paper absentee ballot, to mail it. You can do it over your phone. It’s quick, easy, way more secure and you don’t have to give up your right to privacy because when you mail in, fax or email, you have to sign a waiver that someone could find out how you voted, which is bad because the rest of us vote in person,” Sawhney said. “We don’t have to give up that right. Why should they?”
How Do You Use Voatz?
Voters are instructed to make an account of their smart devices using an email and phone number to set up the account. They must then take a photograph of their ID followed by a photo of them to confirm their identity. Voters also have to provide a fingerprint or retinal scan to further ensure they are who they claim. After this extensive confirmation process, the individual can then vote.
According to Wvnews.com, “The system features biometric/facial recognition technology to allow for fast voting while retaining user anonymity. Voatz also incorporates Blockchain, which is distributed ledger technology used to record transactions across many computers so that the record cannot be altered after the fact. Secretary of State deputy legal counsel and elections officer Donald Kersey said this means votes on Voatz become immutable and tamper proof, with records virtually impossible to crack.”
How Did Voatz Do During the Midterm Election Trial?
Forbes reports that “the mobile voting project was implemented by the Secretary of State of West Virginia, Voatz and funded by a philanthropic arm of Tusk Holdings with the goal of making voting more accessible and more secure for the disenfranchised overseas voting population. Over the 45-day absentee voting period, 144 ballots were cast by active UOCAVA voters spanning 30 countries and the United States.”
As for the future of blockchain in terms of elections, CEO of Factom Paul Snow has a lot to say during a recent panel on this topic. Snow states that “blockchains hold the promise of creating validate-able information and proving information did, in fact, come from intended sources. The blockchain can confirm information to crack down on inaccurate or false reports and create responsibility for providing correct information,” said Snow. “This would be a massive reform in politics, society, business, and government, and not through regulation – the reform is solely through math.”
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