Silicon Valley Tech Investors are pushing a new voting method leading up to the 2020 election, vote-by-phone. Spearheading the effort is Bradley Tusk, a former member of the ill-fated Democrat Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich administration and venture capitalist working with the Boston-based Voatz app. Vote-by-phone voting, also known as blockchain voting, would utilize technology currently used to trade cryptocurrency to cast votes.
However, the National Academies of Science Engineering and Medicine strongly warns against use of blockchain technology in voting. Josh Benaloh, a senior cryptographer at Microsoft who sits on Academy committee who issued the warning calls the technology “magic beans” and argues that the investors like Tusk are promoting technology that doesn’t exist. Elections security expert Joe Kiniry notes, “If you look at all the technology components necessary… [a blockchain] only ticks, like, the first four boxes out of a hundred.”
Tusk believes that he will be able to get some states to use the app during the 2020 presidential primaries.
This is despite several potential security gaps that were identified by experts when West Virginia utilized the Voatz app during the 2018 primary and general elections as an option for military personnel located outside of the United States.
States should listen to experts and say no to vote-by-phone technology. Experimenting with apps like Voatz would be a step backwards in ensuring the integrity of elections.