Voting on the blockchain is finally here in the United States. Well, at least if you live in West Virginia.
And it can all be done through mobile app Voatz. Almost everyone has a cell phone in the states per Pew Research (92%). Thus the barriers to voting can greatly be removed with this model.
The Voatz app was developed by Nimit Sawhney, who quit his job as a security researcher when the app won first prize in a hackathon at the South by Southwest festival, in 2014. Voatz sells itself as not only a way to vote by phone but a way to have the votes recorded on a blockchain. Its biggest investor is the venture arm of Overstock.com, one of the first major online retailers to accept payment in bitcoin.
Ballots are only transmitted to between four and sixteen “permissioned” computers, and, if those computers agree algorithmically that a ballot is legitimate, it gets recorded and counted.
Voatz also uses end-to-end encryption (like WhatsApp) alongside biometric verification—a combination of photo I.D.s, video selfies, and the fingerprint scanner or facial-recognition software built into certain phones—which, according to Nimit Sawhney, makes it “significantly safer and more convenient than some of the existing methods used by overseas citizens and military voters.”
We are excited to see this precedent be set.