Tusk Philanthropies 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.