Mobile Voting is coming to Denver Municipal Elections

Denver becomes the latest jurisdiction to leverage mobile voting in an election for deployed active duty military and eligible overseas voters

DENVER, March 7, 2019 -- Tusk Philanthropies (TP) announced today that Denver is the latest jurisdiction to implement a mobile voting pilot in its May municipal election. The pilot will offer blockchain-based mobile voting to active-duty military, their eligible dependents and overseas voters using their smartphones during the Denver municipal elections.

This marks the second jurisdiction nationwide to partner with Tusk Philanthropies on their national efforts to expand mobile voting. In 2018, Tusk Philanthropies partnered with West Virginia to launch a secure military mobile voting application for the May and November Primary and General elections, marking the first time a state has offered blockchain-based mobile voting in a federal election.

“The one thing everyone agrees on is that our democracy is broken, and politicians make policy decisions based on political inputs and usually nothing else,” said Bradley Tusk, founder and CEO of Tusk Philanthropies. “With turnout this low in national elections, of course we’re stuck with rampant polarization and dysfunction. That only changes if turnout soars. That only happens if we move into the 21st century and let people use the tool already in their pockets: their phone. Blockchain makes it secure and feasible. And the Denver Elections Division deserves a tremendous amount of credit for being one of the first to implement an innovative and convenient solution to fix the underlying issues in our government.”

The pilot is a collaboration between the City and County of Denver, 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 authentication with the Voatz application, and submit their ballot for the election starting on March 23 through 7:00pm on Election Day, May 7. By voting using their secure mobile phones, individuals can complete the necessary paperwork from their device and forgo the time-consuming process of printing and scanning their paperwork. Overseas voters will have the opportunity to verify their ballot was both received and recorded correctly for the 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 more than 30 successful pilots that range from state party conventions to student government elections. In its largest election, more than 15,000 votes were cast.

"With this pilot program, Denver is leading the effort to make voting more convenient, accessible and secure for deployed military personnel and overseas US citizens,” said Nimit Sawhney, CEO and co-founder of Voatz. "The latest developments in smartphone hardware, encryption and blockchain technology make mobile voting a reality. This is a significant stepping stone that I hope many other states and cities will follow.”

“The Denver Elections Division is recognized nationally and internationally for putting voters first and for using technology to make voting easier and more transparent. We are widely known for being innovators in the world of election administration so participating in this pilot program fits perfectly into our mission,” said Jocelyn Bucaro, deputy director of Elections at Denver Clerk and Recorder. “We believe this technology has the potential to make voting easier and more secure not only for our active duty military and overseas citizens, but also for voters with disabilities, who could potentially vote independently and privately using their phones’ assistive technology.”

“The National Cybersecurity Center (NCC) in its efforts to protect the integrity of election systems is excited to partner with the City/County of Denver, Voatz and Tusk Philanthropies to advance opportunities in secure mobile voting, said Vance Brown, CEO of National Cybersecurity Center. “This public/private partnership showcases how promoting innovative technologies, such as blockchain-based mobile voting, protects against cyber-attacks that negatively impact our world. The application of blockchain in our election system provides for secure, auditable, transparent and accurate counting of ballots and the increased integrity of our election system. Through the testing and continued adoption of these emerging technologies, people in the United States of America can one day regularly vote using a mobile device and a blockchain application that is more secure and less costly than our current approaches.”

Background

Proof of Concept

The pilot will offer blockchain-based mobile voting to active-duty military and their eligible dependents, and overseas voters registered for the Denver municipal elections in May and June 2019. The military community currently relies on absentee ballots and are 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 Denver 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 return methods.

Voatz is the technical provider designing the system. They are experienced in the field of voting technology and have run a number of smaller elections using an app for phones and tablets. With this pilot, they will have launched the second blockchain-based mobile voting solution involved in a federal election. The technology has additionally been deployed in State party caucuses, conventions, union votes, and university elections.

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 Denver county.

Military Mobile Voting Powered by Blockchain Technology: Denver’s secure military mobile voting 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 auditabiliy 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, military mobile votes become immutable and tamper-proof once recorded. Benefits of blockchain-based voting solutions include: - Secure and accurate - Elimination of human error – Vote anonymity - Faster results - Increased trust in institutions – Audit trails - Transparency

Oversight

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.

We believe that expanding secure registration and voting options in the United States will increase participation in elections and strengthen democracy. 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 National Cybersecurity Center

The National Cybersecurity Center (NCC) is a non-profit Organization that is Community Built and Driven, serving cybersecurity influencers from education, government, military and industry. The NCC provides cybersecurity thought leadership, events, training and certification, workforce development and collaboration initiatives. Its aim is to promote awareness of cyber issues and to help shape public policy, foster job creation and entrepreneurship, and help develop the cyber workforce. For more information, visit https://cyber-center.org.

About Denver Elections Division

The Denver Elections Division’s mission is to conduct Denver's elections in a fair, accurate, accessible, secure transparent and efficient manner; to educate and encourage the public to participate in voting process; and to maintain accurate voter registration and election records. Denver Elections has won multiple national and international awards for use of technology in elections administration including awards for the first-in-the-nation ballot tracking system BallotTRACE which allows voters to track the status of their mail ballot the same way they track a package and eSign, which lets candidates and issue campaigns gather petitions on tablets instead of paper.

About Voatz

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 36 elections with towns, cities, states, both major state political parties, colleges and universities, and unions. Most recently, 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 to vote in the 2018 Primary Elections (2 counties) and the 2018 Midterm Elections (24 counties). Learn more at https://voatz.com.

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.

Let's Save Our Democracy

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