Mobile-voting tech earns thumb in Chandler testing but implementation is years away

Chandler ran a mock election using mobile voting to see how it might work – and it worked well. But don’t look to implement it any time soon.

by Nicole Greyson, Exclusive to

It’s not being used in the August 2 primary election for Chandler mayor and city council, and a house-rule measure, but will Chandler ever have mobile voting in future elections?

With current voting options being attacked by Republican leaders in the Arizona Legislature — especially early voting through the mail — it seems like a long shot at the moment.

But who knows? So the city went ahead with its evaluation of a mobile voting system.

And Chandler learned several important lessons from his recent mock election using blockchain technology for mobile voting.

“We accomplished what we set out to achieve. We learned how it would work administratively, how it would work for city elections and how it would work for our citizens,” Chandler City Clerk , said Dana DeLong.

“I think the pilot went really well.”

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

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

The pilot program allowed two types of Chandler residents, registered voters as well as 13 to 17-year-olds, to download the Voatz app on their mobile phones and vote on five Bond questions and two questions, enabling mobile voting of voters. be interested in future. A provisional ballot was configured for non-urban residents, including city employees, in the pilot.

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Remote voters download the Voatz app on their phone and vote their mock election ballot after successfully completing ID verification.

The Voatz platform generates a machine-readable paper ballot for each electronic submission. At the end of the polling period, city election officials can access a password-protected digital ballot lockbox, print ballots and tabulate them through a web portal.

According to a December 10, 2021 City Clerk report to the Chandler mayor and council, the mock election was intended to assess community preference for mobile voting in future elections; Provide voters with an innovative way to vote and allow city employees to gain experience with mobile voting apps, including voter verification, audit reporting and analysis of the feasibility of using mobile voting in future city elections Is.

DeLong said 203 voters participated in the pilot.

The five bond questions on the fake electoral ballot passed with about the same percentage as they did in the real election.

When asked whether they would use blockchain technology to cast ballots if given a choice in future Chandler city elections, 187 said yes and 14 said no.

When asked to choose their preferred method of casting the ballot when more options are provided in future elections, voters in a mock election put a ballot by blockchain technology at the top of their list, followed by the US Postal Service. mail in a ballot from. Leaving the ballot at the polling station, and voting by means of a personal ballot.

In a post-fake poll, some respondents said mobile voting with blockchain technology was convenient, yet they had questions about its security.

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Chandler will have ample time to consider the usefulness and security of mobile voting with blockchain technology. The city contracts with Maricopa County to run its elections. The county does not currently use blockchain for elections.

However, according to DeLong, the mock election was a useful exercise in learning about the use of blockchain technology in elections for a city that bills itself as a technology innovator.

DeLong said that blockchain technology offers a “very intuitive” way to conduct elections that “seemed very secure from my point of view.”

“If the county ever decides to use this technology, we will be ready to move forward,” she said. “We’ll have to know how it works and how to talk about it with voters.”

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

“I feel lucky that we were able to go through this and were the first to try it in Arizona,” she said. “It was a great experience for us to be in the first wave of trying out this form of technology for elections.”

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