Since last April, Voatz, a blockchain-designed voting service, has been successful is its public trials. But some skeptics doubt an electronic voting system would work and be secure. Both Democrats and Republicans have used this service to administer local elections with success. Nimit Sawhney, CEO of Voatz, believes it is time for the critics to take another look and test his system.
Voatz was used in May by the Arizona Republicans for their State Convention. Voatz was used again in June for the South Dakota Republican State Convention and for Michigan’s Democratic State Convention in August. In each case, the service was a success and made the election safe given COVID’s gathering recommendations.
Lavora Barnes, the Chair of the Michigan Democratic Party, agreed to use Voatz for the Michigan Democratic Convention. This election also included nominations for the State’s Supreme Court. Barnes said, “My focus was on how to manage and validate everyone’s credentials attending this convention. Getting everyone credentialed is a huge challenge.” Barnes explained that Michigan’s Democratic Conventions are open to anyone who registered in the past 30 days before the event.
When asked about other electronic voting systems, Barnes said, “Other systems did not offer both credentialing people and voting services. We needed a system that could identify an individual and their vote. Voatz provided voting data and the ability to track results. Voatz was able to show that the math was correct, and everyone could see tallies reported correctly.”
Sawhney said, “Every county in every state can design its own paper ballot. If every ballot can be different, it is difficult to enforce technology standards.” He stated that Voatz wants to double down on a push for ballot standards in 2021.
Voatz is not without controversy. In February, MIT News published a severe critique about the application that expressed security concerns about the Company’s platform. In the report, MIT points to hackers’ potential to stop, alter, and take advantage of how an individual user has voted. MIT’s research was mentioned across press sources, like the Associated Press, The Boston Globe, Wired, CoinDesk and others.
Consequently, West Virginia Primary dropped Voatz and went with a paper-ballot system for voters who could not make it to the polls.
Sawhney said, “The MIT report omitted facts and draws a false conclusion.” He went on to explain that the analysis based its findings on a version of their platform that was old and not used in the West Virginia election; the mobile application, which the report was based, was not connected to a live environment and could not pass layers of established security protection; and MIT’s researcher team assumed how Voatz’s architecture worked.
MIT was asked for a comment.
Regardless of what readers think about blockchain technology, it is clear that future generations will refer to our upcoming national election system when designing new ways to cast ballots.