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Utah County to test mobile voting with overseas residents

Blockchain technology powers the pilot program to allow mobile and online voting. Photo: Getty Images

PROVO — Utah elections officials say the Beehive State is ready to start testing a mobile voting pilot program — one that would allow voters who live, work or serve overseas to vote online.

Sheila Nix with Tusk Philanthropies says the pilot program, for Utah County voters who are overseas, uses blockchain technology. It’ll be in place as soon as this fall for both primary and general election voting.

“We have one pilot who replied that he was able to do it between parachute jumps,” she said. “So we thought that was really great.”

The company successfully tested the program with voters from two West Virginia counties and the city of Denver, Colorado.

Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox describes the mobile voting option as convenient and safe.

“Election security is critical to our country, to the very foundation of our republic,” he said.

Nix echoed that sentiment by saying Tusk Philanthropies considers testing and security paramount.

If the pilot program succeeds, Cox said he could envision expanding it to other counties. In particular, he said, voting by mail can be problematic for voters living overseas.

“So often, we get ballots that are returned too late because, you know, the mail system going overseas is just not reliable, and through no fault of the person trying to vote. And we want to make sure that they have an opportunity to have their voice heard as well,” Cox said.

 

Blockchain technology involves distributing information across multiple computers. Initially created for cryptocurrency (specifically Bitcoin), it is considered very secure because once sent, a record cannot be retroactively changed.