The state of Utah will be utilizing a blockchain-based voting app in a pilot program beginning this month.
The trial will allow overseas voters, including active-duty military personnel and holidaymakers, to register their votes for the upcoming municipal primary election using the Voatz app.
Blockchain-based voting has recently been hailed as a solution to two major problems faced by many elections. The first being voting manipulation, while the second is providing a cheap and reliable way to securely record absentee votes.
Next Up, Utah!
Despite the novelty of the new system, Utah is not the first U.S. state to dabble with blockchain-based voting systems. Both West Virginia and Colorado have had apparent successful pilot-runs using the same application.
Following on from the success of the Voatz blockchain-voting trials in these states, Utah will be the third to utilize the Voatz platform to allow eligible overseas voters to cast absentee ballots in a secure and reliable way.
In order to take part in the pilot, eligible voters will be required to apply for an absentee ballot with the county clerk, as well as download and use the Voatz mobile application. After verification by the clerk, eligible voters will be able to log in to the app using their biometric data to cast their votes. These will then be broadcast to and secured by the Voatz blockchain.
Beyond the United States, blockchain-based voting has already gained steam elsewhere in the world, being used in Sierra Leone back in March of 2018, as well as in the Swiss city of Zug later that same year. Since then, there have been numerous similar trials, but as of yet, none have been used to ratify an official public vote.
Benefits of Using Blockchain
In the United States alone, recent estimates suggest that there are at least 8.7 million Americans living overseas — equivalent to around 5.5 percent of the total number of eligible voters in the country.
As it stands, absentee voting in the U.S. typically occurs through a mail-in ballot, which voters must apply for well in advance.
However, this often requires the voter to provide an excuse to explain why they cannot attend in person. In addition, only eight U.S. states and the district of Columbia maintain a permanent absentee list, while the remaining states require absentee voters to apply for a ballot each year.
Beyond postal votes, a variety of alternatives have been tested in other countries, including internet voting and voting by proxy. These, however, are often criticized as they can be more easily manipulated for the purposes of rigging elections.
By using blockchain-based voting systems, governments can ensure that those suffering from infirmity, lacking proper identification at the time, or simply living abroad can securely register their vote. In time, blockchain-based voting is expected to improve voter turnout as well as producing election results that are honest and best represent the majority.
Do you think there is sufficient evidence that blockchain-based voting is more secure than other methods? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
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