Story at a glance

  • A digital ballot called Voatz ran a trial Tuesday, using blockchain for security.
  • Pilot programs have already been run for voters who are overseas or in the military, but this year Utah County also made it an option for their disabled citizens.
  • The oldest voter in Utah County, 106-year-old Maccene Grimmit, was one of the first to use it.
  • Critics caution that there are still open questions about security and voter verification.

Some voters in Utah cast their ballots on smartphones and tablets this year. Using an app called Voatz, which has already been used for military and overseas voters from a few states, Utah County expanded the trial program to its disabled citizens at home.

“I will be 107 on June the 13th,” Maccene Grimmett, a Utah County voter, told Fox13. “Isn’t that ridiculous?” When she cast her vote on the smart tablet, the crowd in the room with her applauded.

Grimmett has voted every year since 1931 and was one of the first to vote on a smart device in the county, Fox13 reports. By creating a voting system that is as transportable as a smartphone, the Voatz app and others like it want to increase access to, and participation in, the democratic process from people who would otherwise have a hard time reaching the polls. Voatz is a product of a Boston-based company, nonprofit Tusk Philanthropies and the National Cybersecurity Center.

Voatz uses blockchain technology for security and security auditors to check the accuracy of its pilot programs, Time reports. But experts advise caution before rolling the program out to a wider audience over security concerns. Voatz defends their auditing system, which requires comparing a paper ballot to digital receipts created when votes are cast as well as data stored in the blockchain.

Verified Voting’s Mark Lindeman disagrees, telling Time, “What’s missing? Almost everything. We don’t actually have any way of knowing that what the voter looked at is the same thing as what the Secretary of State’s office looked at. That’s just not what voter verification means.”

The system has already been used in pilot programs for military and overseas voters from West Virginia, Denver and Utah County, Utah.

“I think it’s wonderful to have them come to me, then I don’t have to get dressed and go out,” Grimmett told Fox13, and added “When you get to be 106 you don’t run much; you’re lucky if you can walk.”

Published on Nov 07, 2019