A U.S. city plans to utilize a blockchain system to store and track votes in its upcoming municipal elections in May.
Denver, Colorado, announced Thursday that it would implement a pilot program to allow overseas voters, active-duty military personnel and their eligible dependents to vote using a blockchain-based smartphone app in collaboration with Tusk Philanthropies and Voatz.
Voatz’s technology has previously been used in West Virginia, where active-duty military personnel used the software during the state’s primary and general elections in 2018.
Since its launch, the startup, backed by Overstock.com Inc (NASDAQ: OSTK), has conducted more than 30 successful pilots, with more than 15,000 votes cast in its largest election to date.
In a statement, Jocelyn Bucaro, deputy director of elections at the Denver Office of Clerk and Recorder said the Denver Elections Division is known for making voting an easier and more transparent process for individuals through technology.
“Participating in this pilot program fits perfectly into our mission,” she said, adding:
“We believe this technology has the potential to make voting easier and more secure not only for our active duty military and overseas citizens, but also for voters with disabilities, who could potentially vote independently and privately using their phones’ assistive technology.”
To participate, eligible voters must file an absentee ballot request and complete an authentication process through the Voatz mobile app. If approved, they will be able to submit their ballot between March 23 and May 7, Denver’s election day.
Using the app means voters can avoid having to print and scan the paperwork they would need should they file normal absentee ballots. Further, voters will be able to confirm whether their ballot was recorded, a feature traditional absentee ballots typically lack.
The National Cybersecurity Center (NCC), which is also participating in the pilot, is “excited to partner with the City/County of Denver, Voatz and Tusk Philanthropies,” said NCC CEO Vance Brown.
“This public/private partnership showcases how promoting innovative technologies, such as blockchain-based mobile voting, protects against cyber-attacks that negatively impact our world,” he said. “The application of blockchain in our election system provides for secure, auditable, transparent and accurate counting of ballots and the increased integrity of our election system.”
The U.S. might see more regular use of this technology should it prove to be effective, he added.