The city of Denver, in collaboration with Denver County, Tusk Philanthropies, the National Cybersecurity Center, and blockchain voting solutions provider Voatz, will enable select citizens to vote in the upcoming municipal elections via a blockchain-powered smartphone application, according to a press release published by Tusk Philanthropies on March 7.

The voting method will be open only to active-duty military as well as eligible dependents and overseas voters registered in Denver County. According to a subsequent March 7 press release from Voatz, the voting option will provide an alternative for deployed military and overseas voters, who must typically vote absentee via email, mail, or fax. The latter methods pose problems because they are not anonymous and can take weeks to be submitted and counted. Ballots cast using the smartphone app, however, are instantly submitted, at which time they are “formatted, printed, and tabulated per standard procedure, and contain an anonymous ID that can be used for a rigorous post-election audit.”

Eligible participants must first submit an absentee ballot request and show they want to utilize the mobile voting option. Once this request is approved, participants must download the application and complete the three-step biometric identification process. The app will verify the individual’s eligibility and, if approved, they will receive a ballot and can vote beginning March 23 until the election closes on May 7.

Bradley Tusk, founder and CEO of Tusk Philanthropies, spoke about the importance of reforming America’s voting system:

“With turnout this low in national elections, of course we’re stuck with rampant polarization and dysfunction. That only changes if turnout soars. That only happens if we move into the 21st century and let people use the tool already in their pockets: their phone. Blockchain makes it secure and feasible. And the Denver Elections Division deserves a tremendous amount of credit for being one of the first to implement an innovative and convenient solution to fix the underlying issues in our government.”

According to the Voatz website, over 80,000 votes have been cast using the blockchain-powered smartphone voting application since June of 2016; the app has been used in more than 30 different elections, from student governments to municipal meetings. One such trial was held in West Virginia, which boasted 144 participants located in 31 different countries. 

Nathan Graham is a full-time staff writer for ETHNews. He lives in Sparks, Nevada, with his wife, Beth, and dog, Kyia. Nathan has a passion for new technology, grant writing, and short stories. He spends his time rafting the American River, playing video games, and writing.

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