Voatz, a mobile elections platform powered by blockchain technology, has raised US$7 million in a Series A funding round led by Medici Ventures and Techstars with participation from Urban Innovation Fund and Oakhouse Partners, the company said on Thursday. Voatz will use the new capital to enhance the accessibility and usability of its technology, and grow its security footprint as it prepares to launch new pilot programs across the US.
Founded in 2014 and part of the Ynext Incubator class of 2015, Voatz provides a platform that leverages military-grade security, biometrics, and the immutability of blockchain technology, to increase convenience, security and auditability to election systems.
Nimit Sawhney, co-founder and CEO of Voatz, said the funding will help the company accelerate the development and deployment of its technology, adding that mobile voting backed by blockchain allows for an improved election process, while making remote voting more accessible and safer.
Voting through Voatz is done via a mobile app. The app only operates with recently-manufactured smartphone models from Apple, Samsung and Google, which are built with the latest security features, including fingerprint and facial recognition.
Voatz uses multiple approaches for malware detection and if an operating system has been tampered with, the app does not permit a voter to vote.
The platform employs blockchain technology to ensure that, once submitted, votes are verified and immutably stored on multiple, geographically diverse verifying servers.
Upon casting a vote, voters receive an automatic, digitally-signed receipt with their selections in order to review that their vote was recorded properly. The election organizer also receives an anonymized copy of the digital receipt, ensuring that a post-election audit may be conducted between the paper trail, the anonymized receipt, and the blockchain.
“Voting is a great application of blockchain technology. What Voatz is doing to allow more registered voters to participate remotely in elections in a safe and secure way is important. It bodes well for more widespread adoption of the Voatz application,” said Jonathan Johnson, president of Medici Ventures. “That’s one reason we’ve increased our investment in the company by leading this Series A round.”
Medici Ventures led Voatz’s previous US$2.2 million seed funding round announced in January 2018.
Since June 2016, more than 80,000 votes have been cast on the Voatz platform across more than 30 elections, the company claims.
In 2018, it conducted a successful pilot with 24 counties in West Virginia during the 2018 midterm elections where deployed military personnel and overseas US citizens leveraged the platform to cast their ballots. The pilot represented the first time that mobile voting secured by a blockchain-based infrastructure had ever been used in a US federal election.
Earlier this year, it ran a pilot program with the city and county of Denver to expand absentee voting for deployed military personnel and overseas US citizens during the city’s 2019 municipal elections.
“Programs with states like West Virginia and cities like Denver make it clear that Voatz is on the right track for delivering large scale impact and we are incredibly excited to continue supporting their growth,” said Andrew Maguire, Investing Partner at Oakhouse Partners.
In addition to the pilot programs with Denver and West Virginia, Voatz said it has partnered with state political parties, universities, labor unions, church groups and nonprofits to administer elections using its platform.