SALT LAKE CITY, July 23, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Tusk Philanthropies (TP) announced today that Utah County is the latest jurisdiction to implement mobile voting in their upcoming municipal primary election in August. The pilot will offer blockchain-based mobile voting to active-duty military, their eligible dependents and overseas voters using their smartphones. Utah County is the third jurisdiction in the U.S. to partner with Tusk Philanthropies on their national efforts to expand mobile voting.
The pilot is a collaboration between the Utah County Elections Division, Voatz, Tusk Philanthropies and the National Cybersecurity Center. Eligible voters will be able to participate in the upcoming 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 June 28th and continues through 8:00 pm on Election Day, August 13.
"I am thrilled that Utah County is partnering with Tusk Philanthropies, Voatz and the National Cybersecurity Center to bring these secure, blockchain-based voting options to Utahns overseas for the upcoming municipal election," said Spencer Cox, Lieutenant Governor of Utah. "This pilot project is emblematic of Utah's commitment to safe, efficient elections for all — especially our brave military and their families all over the world. The opportunity for these Utahns to vote via smartphone means they will more securely participate in the democratic processes they are serving to protect."
Eligible UOCAVA voters registered in Utah County may cast their ballots via smartphone for local races in Eagle Mountain, Highland, Lehi, Mapleton, Orem, Pleasant Grove, Santaquin, and Springville, as well as City Council seats 3 and 4 in Provo. The pilot will be used by troops and overseas citizens serving abroad, who have traditionally had to rely on using absentee paper ballots, making it difficult to participate in elections. According to the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission, nearly 300,000 overseas voters requested ballots but were not able to return them to their county clerks back home in the 2016 elections.
"Utah's pilot is another sign that the momentum for mobile voting in our country is very real and supports our theory that when you show people a much better way to do something, there becomes a demand for it," said Bradley Tusk, founder and CEO of Tusk Philanthropies. "As we enter into a Presidential election year, we have to continue to remove as many barriers and hurdles as possible so a lot more people are able to participate in our democracy."
Tusk Philanthropies recently announced they successfully completed their pilot for Denver's May 2019 municipal elections and June 2019 run-off. In a post election survey from the Denver Elections Division, 100 percent of respondents said they favored secure mobile voting over all methods available to them and the National Cybersecurity Center (NCC) provided an open audit to the public for the Denver election. Tusk Philanthropies also partnered with West Virginia in 2018 to offer mobile voting in the May and November Primary and General elections, marking the first time a state ever offered blockchain-based mobile voting in a federal election.
Voatz, a mobile elections platform powered by military-grade technology making it safe and easy to vote from anywhere, is the technical provider designing the system. Last year in West Virginia, Voatz launched the first blockchain-based mobile voting solution involved in a federal election. To date, Voatz has conducted 40 successful pilots that include federal, state, and local elections. In its largest election, more than 15,000 votes were cast.
"Election officials in Utah County and across the country are recognizing that current absentee voting methods are not sufficient," said Nimit Sawhney, CEO and co-founder of Voatz. "Members of the military who are stationed overseas or young people serving missions around the world should be able to take advantage of the latest advances in smartphone hardware, encryption and blockchain technology to cast their ballot. We are delighted that voters in Denver, West Virginia and now Utah County have had an opportunity to evaluate the security and ease of voting from a mobile device."
"The upcoming Utah County pilot will be an exciting opportunity to build off the learnings we gained in Denver," said Forrest Senti, Director of Business and Government Initiatives at the National Cybersecurity Center. "This next pilot is a great showcase of how public/private partnerships can innovate to push the envelope of what it means to have ease of access and security for all voters everywhere."
Proof of Concept
The pilot will offer blockchain-based mobile voting to active-duty military and their eligible dependents, and overseas voters registered in Utah County for the municipal primary elections in Eagle Mountain, Highland, Lehi, Mapleton, Orem, Pleasant Grove, Santaquin, and Springville, as well as City Council seats 3 and 4 in Provo in August 2019 and November 2019. The overseas military community currently relies on absentee ballots and is allowed to vote in their home state regardless of where they are deployed (even if deployed domestically). This mobile voting option will be offered in addition to the absentee ballot option. In addition to having the option to cast their ballot via the blockchain-based mobile application, eligible military voters in Utah County can choose to cast their vote through the standard electronic remote absentee ballot system. The electronic remote absentee ballot system currently offered to overseas military voters doesn't ensure anonymity and relies on email or postal mail for ballot return.
Voatz is the technical provider designing the system. With this pilot, they will have launched the second pilot blockchain-based mobile voting solution for a municipal election. They are experienced in the field of voting technology and have run a number of elections for state party caucuses, conventions, union votes, and university elections using an app for phones and tablets. Voatz conducted the first blockchain-based mobile voting pilot for a federal election in West Virginia during the 2018 midterms. This pilot conforms with the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) and the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act, two federal laws enacted to protect the rights of United States citizens to vote in federal elections while they are serving in the uniformed services or residing overseas.
To Be Eligible to Vote Using This Solution, An Individual Must Be: 1. Deployed and overseas military personnel and their families, other qualified overseas voters (as applicable under the UOCAVA), and 2. Eligible to vote in Utah County.
Mobile Voting Powered by Blockchain Technology: Voatz's secure voting application is powered by blockchain technology. Blockchain-based mobile voting solutions can help meet many of the most urgent challenges in election administration by adding security, transparency, and auditability to the system. Blockchain is a distributed ledger technology that empowers anyone with an internet connection to transfer anything of value — anywhere, anytime, with unmatched security and integrity. Because blockchain is a distributed ledger of transactions, mobile votes become immutable and tamper-proof once recorded. The benefits of blockchain-based voting include: Security and accuracy, elimination of human error, vote anonymity, faster results, increased trust in institutions, audit trails, and transparency.
The coalition approach ensures inclusivity and diverse perspectives. Partners in the effort combine expertise in election systems, blockchain, research, communications, and managing the deployment of successful proofs of concept. The initiative is strictly nonpartisan and is open to engagement with civic innovators, technologists, academics, and philanthropic leaders.
Blockchain-based mobile voting is auditable, transparent, secure and accurate. Mobile voting helps reduce human error, provides faster results and can build trust in institutions. Increasing participation and accessibility in elections can increase civic engagement and voter turnout.
About Tusk Philanthropies
Tusk Philanthropies was created by Bradley Tusk, Founder and CEO of Tusk Holdings & Tusk Ventures, for the purpose of working on reducing hunger throughout the United States by providing greater access to programs like school breakfast and to dramatically increase voter turnout and participation in U.S. elections through mobile voting, beginning with qualified military service members. Mobile voting is a non-partisan initiative designed to not favor any one candidate or party but to expand voting options to increase participation in our electoral process. None of the Tusk entities has a financial interest in Voatz or any other voting technology company.
About Utah County
Utah County is Utah's second largest county with over 600,000 residents. Located just south of the Salt Lake City area, Utah County is home to a growing technology industry which has driven economic growth in the state. With two universities, there is a strong contingent of young voters who fill the ranks of dozens of software startups. The county is home to companies like Adobe, Domo, Entrata, IM Flash, Instructure, Nature's Sunshine, NuSkin, Qualtrics, Vivint, and many others. The Utah County Elections office is under new management through a newly elected County Clerk Amelia Powers who has committed to revolutionize local government powered by innovative digital services and blockchain technology.
Voatz is an award-winning mobile elections platform backed by military-grade security and cutting-edge technology (including biometrics and a blockchain-based infrastructure). Voatz enables voting via compatible smartphones and tablets to increase accessibility and security in elections. Since 2016, Voatz has run numerous elections with towns, cities, states, both major state political parties, universities, and unions. In 2018, Voatz ran the first mobile blockchain vote in US federal election history in partnership with the State of West Virginia to empower deployed military personnel and overseas citizens (UOCAVA) to vote in the primary and midterm elections (24 counties). In 2019, the County of Denver selected Voatz to enable UOCAVA citizens to vote in its municipal general and runoff elections. Learn more at https://voatz.com.
About National Cybersecurity Center
The National Cybersecurity Center exists to help secure the world using knowledge, connections and resources to solve global cybersecurity challenges and develop a protected cyber ecosystem. An independent and non-profit think tank based in Colorado Springs, Colo., the NCC provides cybersecurity leadership, services, training and a cybersecurity community for public officials, business executives and the workforce. Discover the NCC at cyber-center.org.
SOURCE Tusk Philanthropies