Utah County is to pilot the mobile voting app from Voatz in its municipal primary election in August.
According to a press release on Tuesday, the county will offer the blockchain-based voting service to active-duty military, their eligible dependents and overseas voters. The pilot is a collaboration between the Utah County Elections Division, Voatz, Tusk Philanthropies and the National Cybersecurity Center.
As part of the Tusk Philanthropies effort to increase voter turnout, Voatz has previously been trialed in municipal elections in Denver, as well as twoprimaries in West Virginia – the first time a U.S. state has offered blockchain-based mobile voting in federal elections.
The pilot is primarily targeting troops serving abroad, who normally to rely on absentee paper ballots, which can prove an obstacle to voting. The press release cites the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission as saying that nearly 300,000 overseas voters had requested ballots in the 2016 elections, but had not been able to return them to the county clerks in time.
“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.”
Voatz’s mobile app is supported by “military-grade” security tech, as well as biometrics and blockchain infrastructure, according to the announcement. The startup has now conducted more than 40 pilots including from state party conventions and student government elections. Utah County is a jurisdiction within the U.S. state of Utah.
“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 Security Cyber 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.”
In June, Voatz raised $7 million in funding from investors including Overstock’s Medici Ventures and Techstars.