On Oct. 18, the nonprofit Tusk Philanthropies announced its partnership with Jackson and Umatilla Counties in Oregon to pilot the mobile elections platform Voatz. The pilot offers eligible voters to cast their votes using their smartphones, which are secured through blockchain and facial recognition technology.
Pilot participants are mostly servicemembers overseas
The pilot is only available to a small and select group of voters, allowing servicemembers overseas, their eligible dependents and other overseas voters to cast their ballots via the mobile app, which was developed by Tusk Philanthropies.
Dan Lonai, Director of Umatilla County Administrative Services, said that the pilot aims to expand voter participation and make it easier for citizens to exercise their right to vote.
This latest e-voting pilot is a collaboration between the Oregon counties, mobile elections platform Voatz, Tusk Philanthropies and the National Cybersecurity Center.
Other U.S. jurisdictions have piloted blockchain-based voting
West Virginia was the first state to offer blockchain-based mobile voting in a federal election through the Voatz platform. Since then, Tusk Philanthropies has partnered with the City of Denver, Colorado, and Utah County, Utah, who all conducted successful mobile voting pilots. CEO and founder of Tusk Philanthropies Bradley Tusk said:
“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. 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.”
Blockchain could improve voter participation
Tusk Philanthropies wants to use blockchain technology to address the problem of low voter turnout in the American electoral system. This will improve political representation and subsequently, the quality of government, according to Tusk. Sheila Nix, president of Tusk Philanthropies told:
“Blockchain is the most secure option that exists right now but we are vendor and technology agnostic and are open to new solutions in the future. We think there is a lot of growth potential for blockchain-based voting — especially due to the auditability features.”