It is hard to get a grasp on the slow creep forward of the utilization of any new voting technology, especially when technologies are new and when they are unusual. The use of the digital “distributed, decentralized, public ledger” known as blockchain technology has been spreading in many industries. Slowly, experiment by experiment, there have been attempts at testing how blockchain’s unique characteristics can be taken advantage of in the administration of elections.
Limited, local initiatives have shown that blockchain may have a real role to play and they are often backed by private technology companies. Voatz is the company leading the pack today in America. Voatz has been involved in some of the first blockchain based voting pilot runs and has just announced raising significant outside funding:
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.”
See the full story here. Also, Phil Goldstein at StateTech Magazine recently published an article about how blockchain technology is working its way into America, finding a role in several different aspects of election administration and beyond. From the article:
Blockchain technology, in and of itself, cannot replace legacy systems for databases, record keeping or transaction management, but it can enhance such systems, experts say. Blockchain voting is also getting more attention, though cybersecurity experts are skeptical about it and it has not been tried in the United States on a large scale yet.
Most state government officials are still in a wait-and-see mode about the technology, though blockchain use cases continue to proliferate. According to a 2017 National Association of State CIOs report, 63 percent of those surveyed were still investigating blockchain in state government with informal discussions, 26 percent said there were no discussions of blockchain at that time and 5 percent had adopted blockchain technology in support of some state government services.