Tusk Philanthropies (TP) announced today that Jackson and Umatilla Counties will be the latest jurisdictions to implement mobile voting pilots in their November special elections. The pilot will offer blockchain-based mobile voting to active-duty military, their eligible dependents and overseas voters, using their smartphones, during the special election.
Jackson and Umatilla become the fourth and fifth jurisdictions 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, marking the first time a state has offered blockchain-based mobile voting in a federal election. Since then Tusk Philanthropies has conducted successful mobile voting pilots in the City and County of Denver and Utah County.
“I believe voting is an honor and a privilege, a fundamental right as a United States Citizen,” said Chris Walker, Jackson County Clerk. “The County Clerk is the guardian of the people’s voice and will. It is my commitment to provide voters with the ability to access and cast their ballots in a safe and secure manner.”
“In an effort to ensure that individuals who are serving our country overseas can vote, Umatilla County is piloting a project to allow them to vote digitally using their cell phones and facial recognition technology,” Dan Lonai, Director of Umatilla County Administrative Services. “Every adult US citizen has the right to vote, and Umatilla County wants to make sure they can.”
The pilots are a collaboration between the two jurisdictions’ elections offices, 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 20th and continues through 8:00 pm PT on Election Day, November 5.
“Jackson and Umatilla Counties just made history as the first in Oregon to give voters the ability to vote in the same way they conduct most of their other business – on their phones,” said Bradley Tusk, founder and CEO of Tusk Philanthropies. “Ultimately, giving everyone the opportunity to use mobile voting means we can dramatically expand turnout and loosen the grip on power by special interests and extreme ideologues on both sides.”
“Secretary Clarno and I are excited that Jackson and Umatilla counties are looking for better and more secure ways to serve our military and overseas voters,” said Rich Vial, Oregon Deputy Secretary. “By enabling these voters to cast a ballot using their mobile device which adds the security of modern smartphone technology combined with the security of the blockchain, we can make it easier, and at the same time more secure, for them to cast a ballot from wherever they are in the world.”
The pilots 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. By voting using their secure mobile phones, individuals will forgo the time-consuming process of sending in an absentee ballot and they will get confirmation seconds after that their vote was counted in 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. To date, Voatz has conducted numerous successful pilots that include federal, state, and local elections. In its largest election, more than 15,000 votes were cast.
“We are delighted that deployed military and overseas citizen voters from both Jackson and Umatilla County will have an opportunity to experience the privacy and accessibility of the mobile voting platform,” said Nimit Sawhney, Co-Founder and CEO at Voatz, Inc. “We strongly believe that every citizen has a right to vote conveniently regardless of their circumstances.”
Tusk Philanthropies and Voatz recently announced that they have successfully completed their mobile voting pilots in the City and County of Denver and Utah County. Both independent post-election audits show that no votes were intercepted or changed, nor was any voter data compromised. 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. Tusk Philanthropies also partnered with West Virginia and Voatz in 2018 to offer mobile voting in their elections, marking the first time a state ever offered blockchain-based mobile voting in a federal election.
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.
“We applaud these two counties in Oregon for their recent commitment to give our service members and overseas citizens the opportunity to cast their vote via a smartphone,” said Forrest Senti, Director of Business and Government Initiatives at the National Cybersecurity Center. “Providing this option gives citizens abroad the exciting opportunity to vote privately and securely from anywhere in the world.”
Proof of Concept
The pilot will offer blockchain-based mobile voting to active-duty military and their eligible dependents, and overseas voters registered in either Jackson County or Umatilla County for the November special election. The military community currently relies on absentee ballots and is allowed to vote in their home state regardless of where they are deployed. 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 and overseas voters in both counties can choose to cast their vote through the standard electronic remote absentee ballot system. The electronic remote absentee ballot system currently offered to military and overseas 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 fourth 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 military personnel and their families, other qualified overseas voters (as applicable under the UOCAVA), and 2. Eligible to vote in Jackson County or Umatilla 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 combined 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.
SOURCE Tusk Philanthropies