Tusk/Montgomery Philanthropies Announces First in the Nation Mobile Voting Blockchain Pilot Program

West Virginia Secretary of State, a veteran, ensures military voting access

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Tusk/Montgomery Philanthropies (TMP) announced today that West Virginia has launched the first-in-the-nation mobile voting Blockchain pilot program for active duty service members. This represents the first successful example of TMP's national efforts to create mobile voting.

"We are never going to get the elected officials to listen to the mainstream public without greater participation in our electoral system," said Bradley Tusk, Founder of Tusk-Montgomery Philanthropies. "Secretary Warner for his fortitude in putting this pilot together for our service men and women serving overseas is nothing short of transformative."

This pilot project - launched Friday, March 23rd - is available to currently deployed military voters, spouses and their dependents that are registered to vote in two counties – Harrison County and Monongalia County. The pilot is also open to other qualified overseas voters. 

The current absentee process for West Virginia military voters who are currently deployed can be very cumbersome to complete. Finding solutions to insure military personnel are able to vote has been one of Warner's priorities since taking office 14 months ago.

A 23-year veteran of the U.S. Army, Secretary Warner deployed to countries all over the world. 

"Our military service personnel fight every day across the globe to protect our way of life. They deserve to vote as much as anyone, and we owe it to them to make the process as easy as possible," said West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner.  "Whether a Soldier is without mail service in the mountains of Afghanistan, or a Sailor is in a submarine under the polar icecap, they deserve the opportunity to participate easily in our democracy. They should have a voice in choosing who sends them into harm's way."

Sheila Nix, former Chief of Staff to Dr. Jill Biden, is President of Tusk-Montgomery Philanthropies.

"Members of the military serving our country deserve to be able to vote in a timely manner, in a safe and convenient way.  Mobile voting will allow them to cast their votes easily and securely."

BACKGROUND

Partners
The proof of concept is a collaboration between the Office of the Secretary of State of West Virginia, Voatz, Tusk Montgomery Philanthropies, and the Blockchain Trust Accelerator at New America. 

Proof of Concept
The pilot will offer blockchain-based mobile voting to active-duty military and their eligible dependents registered to vote in two West Virginia counties in the May, 2018 primary elections. The military community currently relies on absentee ballots and are allowed to vote in their home state regardless of where they are deployed (even if deployed domestically), this mobile-voting option will be offered in addition to the absentee ballot option. In addition to having the option to cast their ballot via the blockchain-based mobile application, eligible military voters in the two WVA counties can choose to cast their vote through the standard absentee ballot system. The absentee ballot system currently offered to overseas military voters doesn't ensure anonymity and many voters are concerned their mail-in ballots aren't counted unless an election is close.

WVA Secretary of State, Mac Warner, has empowered his team to pursue a limited pilot in the 2018 primary election, and if successful a wider pilot in the 2018 general election. By way of context, in 2010, West Virginia managed a web-based remote military voting pilot - with just five counties. Secretary Warner voted on a desktop from Afghanistan and is committed to providing similar service to military personnel. A blockchain-based solution is far more secure and auditable. 

Voatz is the technical provider designing the system. They are experienced in the field of voting technology, and have run a number of smaller elections using an app for phones and tablets. With this pilot, they will have launched the first blockchain-based mobile voting solution involved in a federal election. The tech has already been deployed in party caucuses, conventions, union votes, and university elections.

This pilot conforms with the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) and the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act, federal laws enacted to protect the rights of United States citizens to vote in federal elections while they are serving in the uniformed services or residing overseas.  

To Be Eligible to Vote Using This Solution, An Individual Must Be: 1. Deployed and overseas military personnel and their families, other qualified overseas voters (as applicable under the UOCAVA), and 2. Eligible to vote in either Harrison County or Monongalia County. 

Military Mobile Voting Powered by Blockchain Technology: West Virginia's secure military mobile voting pilot is powered by blockchain technology. Blockchain-based mobile voting solutions can help meet many of the most urgent challenges in election administration by adding security, transparency, and trust to the system. Blockchain is a distributed ledger technology that empowers anyone with an internet connection to transfer anything of value — anywhere, anytime, with unmatched security and integrity. Because blockchain is a distributed ledger of transactions, military mobile votes become immutable and tamper-proof once recorded. Benefits of blockchain-based voting solutions include: - Secure and accurate - Elimination of human error - Anonymize votes - Faster results - Increased trust in institutions - Auditable - Transparent

Oversight
The coalition approach ensures inclusivity and diverse perspectives. Partners in the effort combine expertise in election systems, blockchain, research, communications and managing the deployment of successful proofs of concept. The initiative is strictly nonpartisan and is open to engagement with civic innovators, technologists, academics, and philanthropic leaders.

We believe that expanding secure registration and voting options in the United States will increase participation in elections and strengthen democracy. Blockchain-based mobile voting is auditable, transparent, secure and accurate. E-voting helps reduce human error, provides faster results, and can build trust in institutions. Increasing participation and accessibility in elections can increase civic engagement and voter turnout.

About the Office of The Secretary of State of West Virginia - West Virginia's Secretary of State is Mac Warner. Secretary Warner was first elected in 2016 and took office on January 16, 2017. A graduate of West Point Academy, Secretary Warner received a law degree from West Virginia University and a Master's Degree in International Law from the University of Virginia. After 23 years of service in the United States Army, Secretary Warner retired with the rank of Lt. Colonel. 

About Voatz - Voatz is the technical provider designing the mobile voting platform. Voatz is an award winning technology startup based in Boston MA. Its innovative and highly secure mobile voting platform has been used by more than 70,000 voters in various elections and voting events in multiple jurisdictions including several pilot projects involving Town Meeting Voting & Participatory Budget Voting. The Voatz platform focuses on providing cutting-edge security alongside an easy to use interface to enable voters to make their voices heard in a convenient manner. Voatz has been recognized with several recent awards, including the 2017 MassChallenge Gold Award, the 2017 Microsoft Civic Innovation Scholarship, the 2017 Harvard SECON Prize, 2016 MIT Startup Spotlight Cult Favorite Prize, the 1st Prize at the SXSW Citrix Hackathon, the Mass Innovation Nights Audience Favorite Prize, and recently graduated from the 2017 Techstars & MassChallenge Startup Accelerator programs in Boston. Voatz has conducted a number of smaller election events including state party conventions, town meeting voting as well as labor union and university elections. 

About the Blockchain Trust Accelerator and New America  - The Blockchain Trust Accelerator (BTA) is a project of New America, a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy institute. The BTA is a leading global platform for harnessing blockchain to deliver social impact. Established in 2016, the BTA brings together governments, technologists, civil society organizations, and philanthropists to build blockchain pilots that benefit society. BTA projects and research help increase accountability, ensure transparency, create opportunity, and build trust in core institutions. New America is dedicated to renewing America by continuing the quest to realize our nation's highest ideals, honestly confronting the challenges caused by rapid technological and social change, and seizing the opportunities those changes create.

About Tusk/Montgomery Philanthropies Tusk/Montgomery Philanthropies was created by Bradley Tusk, Founder and CEO of Tusk Holdings & Tusk Ventures, for the purpose of working on reducing hunger throughout the United States by providing greater access to programs like school breakfast and to dramatically increase voter turnout and participation in U.S. elections through mobile voting, beginning with qualified military service members. Mobile voting is a non-partisan initiative designed to not favor any one candidate or party but to expand voting options to increase participation in our electoral process.

SOURCE Tusk/Montgomery Philanthropies