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Mobile voting technology was well received in Chandler's trial, but implementation will take years

Chandler used mobile voting by cell phone to run a mock election to see how it worked, and it worked. But don’t expect it to be implemented anytime soon.

by Nicole Gleason, Special on

Chandler Mayor and City Council’s Aug. 2 Primary Election and Autonomous Action, Will Chandler Have Mobile Voting in Future Elections?

Current voting options have been under attack by Republican leaders in the Arizona Legislature, most notably early voting by mail, which seems a roundabout path at this point.

But who knows? As such, the city proceeded to evaluate a mobile voting system.

Chandler also learned some key lessons from recent mock elections that used blockchain technology for mobile voting.

“We achieved what we set out to achieve: how it works administratively, how it works in city elections, how it works for citizens I learned,” said Chandler City Official Dana DeLonge.

“I think the pilot did really well.”

In August 2021, the City contracted Voatz, Inc. to implement a mobile voting pilot program. Voatz uses smartphone security, remote identity verification, biometrics and an app with blockchain to protect voter information and votes. Blockchain technology stores information securely and electronically in digital form.

The mock election was held immediately after the city’s November 2, 2021 special bond election and lasted three weeks. Mock election votes were tallied for him in early December.

In the pilot program, registered voters and two types of Chandler residents aged 13 to 17 downloaded the Voatz app on their mobile phones and voted on five bond questions and two questions that gauge voter interest in mobile voting. I was. future. The trial set up a provisional ballot for non-city residents, including city employees.

Remote voters downloaded the Voatz app on their mobile phones, successfully completed identity verification, and then cast their ballots on mock election ballots.

The Voatz platform creates a corresponding machine-readable paper ballot for each electronic submission. At the end of the voting period, city election officials were able to access a password-protected digital ballot lockbox via her web portal to print and count ballots.

City officials reported to Mayor Chandler and the City Council on Dec. 10, 2021 that the purpose of the mock election was to gauge community preference for mobile voting in future elections. Provide voters with innovative ways to vote and enable city staff to gain experience with mobile voting apps. This includes voter verification, audit reports, and analysis of the potential use of mobile voting in future city elections.

DeLong said 203 voters participated in the pilot.

The five bond questions on the mock election ballot passed at about the same rate as the actual election.

When asked if they would use blockchain technology to vote in a future City of Chandler election if given the choice, 187 said yes and 14 said no. .

When future elections offer more options, when asked to choose their preferred method for casting their ballots, voters in mock elections will have blockchain-powered ballots at the top of the list. and then mailing ballots through the United States Postal Service. Drop off your ballot at a Vote Center and vote in person.

In a post-election mock survey, some respondents said mobile voting using blockchain technology was convenient, but questioned its security.

Chandler has plenty of time to consider the ease of use and security of mobile voting using blockchain technology. The city has a contract with Maricopa County to conduct the election. The county does not currently use blockchain for elections.

But according to DeLong, the mock election was a meaningful exercise in learning about the use of blockchain technology in elections for the city, which calls itself a tech innovator.

DeLong said blockchain technology would provide a “very seamless” way to manage elections and “seems very secure from my point of view.”

“If the county decides to use this technology, we will be ready to move forward,” she said. you would know.”

Mobile voting using blockchain technology will not completely replace other voting methods such as mail-in ballots or in-person voting at polling stations, DeLong said, calling it “another tool for elections.” called.

“We feel lucky to have experienced this and to be the first to try it in Arizona,” she said. It was a great experience for us.”