Utah County third jurisdiction to pilot Voatz’ biometric elections app
Voatz has signed up Utah County for its biometric-backed mobile voting service to allow religious missionaries and active-duty military personnel to cast ballots remotely with their mobile phones, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.
Utah County Clerk Amelia Powers estimates that 58 voters will use the service during primary elections for municipal offices under the pilot project.
Verified Voting, a group that advocates for more secure elections, is concerned that Voatz has not proved its technology can identify a threat, which makes it difficult to be sure that voter information was not intercepted before being written to the blockchain.
“We always advocate that there be a way to detect if something has gone wrong and then to recover from it,” comments Verified Voting President Marian Schneider. “This doesn’t have that — regardless of all the measures they’re putting in place to prevent something from happening.”
So far, Voatz has conducted 40 successful pilots for local, state, and federal elections, including City of Denver municipal elections in May, as well as the June runoff, and more than 15,000 votes were cast in the largest one, the company says. Utah County will become the third jurisdiction to use the app, through a partnership with Tusk Philanthropies and the National Cybersecurity Center.
Utah County was called the “epicenter of dysfunction” by the State’s Governor Gary Herbert after a broken voting machines led to long lineups and delayed results in last year’s federal election. The county is also piloting ranked-choice voting in the upcoming election.
Voatz Director of Product Hilary Braseth says the company is currently focussed on providing services for overseas voters, but hopes in the future to extend its product to people who may struggle to get to polling locations due to disabilities.
Voatz also raised $7 million in a recent Series A funding round to increase the accessibility and footprint of its app.