PROVO, Utah, Oct. 16, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Tusk Philanthropies (TP) today announced it will extend its Utah County's mobile voting pilot for the upcoming November general elections. Utah County will broaden eligibility in the upcoming election to include the disabled community, marking the first time mobile voting will be offered to U.S. citizens other than military and overseas voters. TP also announced that the National Cybersecurity Center (NCC) successfully completed a third-party audit of Utah County's August mobile voting pilot.
The NCC election audit for Utah County's August municipal primary election showed that votes cast over the blockchain were recorded and tabulated accurately. The audit was for NCC and members of the public to conduct an independent, third-party audit of the Voatz election results. NCC worked with Voatz to develop a web-based tool that displays the voter-verified receipt, the tabulated ballot image and the blockchain transaction.
Utah County invited members of the public to participate in the auditing process and hosted more than ten volunteers from a diverse set of backgrounds. These community members used their expertise and knowledge to verify the election and offer feedback on the technology used in the primary election
s. After completing the audit process, none of the auditors flagged the integrity of the election, nor suggested any errors in the submitted ballots or tabulation data. Given the success of the August pilot, Utah County has decided to extend the pilot for the general election s in November 2019 and expand the option to voters with disabilities.
"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. 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 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."
In a step toward continued transparency about how the audit was conducted, 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.
Proof of Concept
The pilot will offer blockchain-based mobile voting to active-duty military and their eligible dependents, overseas voters, and voters with disabilities registered in Utah County for the municipal general election
s in November 2019. This mobile voting option will be offered in addition to the absentee ballot option. 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). 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. Registered voters with disabilities can participate in the November pilot by contacting the elections office and requesting an application to opt-in to the pilot. Utah County complies with all federal law requirements and provides absentee ballots and accessible voting systems at polling places for anyone who self-identifies as being disabled to ensure they are provided the same opportunity for access and participation, including privacy and independence.
Voatz is the technical provider designing the system. With this pilot, they will have launched the third 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), a voter with a mobility disability 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 Gardner 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, both the County of Denver and Utah County selected Voatz to enable UOCAVA citizens to vote in their municipal general 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.
Contact: Rachel Livingston, [email protected]
SOURCE Tusk Philanthropies