Voatz, the blockchain-based voting app, will get one other vote of confidence as Denver agrees to strive it • TechCrunch


A controversial blockchain-based cellular voting app referred to as Voatz is getting put to the check once more.

Town of Denver revealed in the present day that it has agreed to implement a cellular voting pilot in its Might municipal election utilizing the four-year-old, Boston-based startup’s expertise. Will probably be supplied completely to active-duty navy, their eligible dependants and abroad voters utilizing their smartphones.

All have been notified that they will use Voatz through a e-newsletter this morning, together with a hyperlink to enroll to take part in the event that they so select.

Voatz — which had raised $2.2 million in funding led by the enterprise arm of Overstock.com final yr — says it has performed greater than 30 profitable pilots already. Two of those in West Virginia attracted the monetary backing of Tusk Philanthropies, the philanthropic operation of investor, operator and strategist Bradley Tusk, who was featured last year in The New Yorker for his involvement in each efforts.

One was a small pilot challenge in West Virginia that gave abroad residents and members of the navy stationed overseas entry to Voatz to solid ballots on their telephones, although it was open solely to residents of two counties. The expertise was put to the check once more in final November’s mid-term elections, through which practically 150 folks voted from 24 out of the state’s 55 counties.

We talked with Tusk in early December about each efforts and about Voatz extra usually, which Tusk hasn’t funded however whose mission of enabling extra folks to vote, extra simply, he aggressively advocates. Although cellular voting, blockchain-based apps and Voatz specifically have been criticized as potentially vulnerable to hacking, Tusk spent the primary 20 years of his profession in politics, and in his view, until extra persons are empowered to “advocate politically” from their telephones, politicians will proceed to reply to the far smaller variety of voters who really present up on the polls.

Tusk additionally believes Voatz works, having employed exterior examiners to evaluate the primary West Virginia pilot, together with Andre McGregor, a former FBI cyber particular agent who’s now the worldwide head of safety for TLDR, an organization that focuses on blockchain expertise. It might clarify why, in partnering with town of Denver and the National Cybersecurity Center, a non-profit group that was initially created as an workplace throughout the U.S. Division of Homeland Safety 11 years in the past, Tusk Philanthropies once more invited Voatz as a companion in Denver’s cellular voting endeavor. (A spokesperson for Tusk Philanthropies tells us that Colorado has additionally explored creating an open-source cellular voting platform however that it merely doesn’t exist but.)

Actually, it’s conceivable that Voatz isn’t any much less safe than present choices for abroad navy personnel, who typically submit their votes through e mail. With Voatz, ballots are transmitted between as much as 32 “permissioned” computer systems that need to agree algorithmically {that a} poll is respectable earlier than it will get recorded and counted, and this solely after a voter has been recognized by quite a few different steps. Amongst these: a voter should present a telephone quantity and an eight-digit pin and submit a photograph of his or her driver’s license. The voter should then they shoot and submit a video of their face, which is then processed by facial recognition expertise that may affirm (or not affirm) that the face within the video belongs to the identical particular person registered as a state voter.

To assuage any lingering issues, town of Denver will moreover conduct its personal audit. In the meantime, Tusk Philanthropies will work with a cybersecurity companion ShiftState to conduct an impartial audit, along with the inner audit performed by of Voatz.

Town of Denver says that 4,000 worldwide voters are eligible to make use of the app.

Apparently, regardless of the efficiencies Voatz guarantees, the voting course of nonetheless gained’t be a simple one. Absolutely 65 candidates have tossed their hats within the ring for public workplaces, in accordance go the area’s metropolis journal, 5280. And whereas far-flung navy personnel could also be utilizing a blockchain-based app, the location of every mayoral candidate on the poll shall be decided in decidedly old-school style — by drawing their names out of a bingo-ball turner.



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