We’re officially here, the eve of the US election. In what will surely be an election for the history books, whatever the outcome may be, another less talked about milestone occurred — the first ever ballot cast for president in a US general election via a blockchain voting app on a personal phone.
Election tech or “ElecTech” has been gaining traction in recent years. If you stop and think about how embedded technology is in our daily lives, voting by paper ballots at a local polling station feels anachronistic. The latest developments in election tech have the ability to not only shape this election, but the entire election landscape.
The Coronavirus pandemic shined a light on inequality and these startups aim to empower and engage voters to participate in democratic processes. According to Pitchbook, $421.63 million has been invested into 27 election tech companies by 88 investors.
Let’s take a look at few of the emerging players in this space and how they plan to innovate:
Voatz is a mobile election voting platform, secured via smart biometrics, real time ID verification, and the blockchain for irrefutability. Having secured over $9 million in funding and launched several trials in local elections, this is likely the most established player in the space.
What sets Voatz apart from some of its competitors is the ability to verify identification in addition to voting, pre-empting some of the concerns about voter fraud. In fact, the aforementioned ballot for president was cast using Voatz.
Not without controversy, MIT News flagged concerns about security flaws and the potential for ballots to be altered or stopped and take advantage of an individual user.
Votem® is a blockchain-based mobile voting platform enabling citizens around the world to easily vote online. This Cleveland based startup has raised just over $1 million but is making waves and was a finalist in SXSW’s 2020 Blockchain category.
Their mission is to have 1 billion people around the world vote through the Votem platform using their mobile device by 2025.
Votem has also seen some challenges in recent years. Following the acquisition of Everyone Counts, the company took significant financial liabilities and was forced to lay off most of the staff.
Follow My Vote develops open source end-to-end verifiable blockchain voting software for use in government-sponsored elections worldwide. Founded in 2012 and having raised $70k, the founders soon hit the end of their runway and had to find day jobs as they pursued their passion project at night.
Follow My Vote’s mission is to promote truth and freedom by empowering individuals to effectively and implement non-coercive solutions to societal problems.
What sets Follow My Vote apart from their competition is their public benefit corporation status, they are led by their desire to solve a technical problem in democracy as opposed to making a profit.