Despite its history of security and technical issues, blockchain voting platform Voatz has reportedly been deployed successfully at the Michigan Democratic Party State Nominating Convention.
More than 1,900 delegates at the virtual convention, held from Aug. 29-30, were able to nominate candidates using Voatz for the state’s Supreme Court, state Board of Education, and boards at state universities. The event was held online due to restrictions caused by the pandemic.
“There were so many unique challenges with this year’s convention because of the pandemic, but the Voatz platform eased many of our concerns,” said Chrisy Jensen, Executive Director of the Michigan Democratic Party.
“Voatz enabled our delegates to be verified remotely and participate through their smartphones.”
This is the fourth time the blockchain-based voting system has been used by the Michigan Democratic Party, but the first rollout at a virtual convention in the time of COVID-19. While the app has facilitated different elections across West Virginia, Oregon, Utah, and Colorado, Voatz is not without controversy.
The Massachusetts-based company has also been met with public criticism for a lack of transparency, particularly when it comes to data security. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology released a report earlier this year in which they identified security vulnerabilities within the app’s core framework. Voatz later responded with a blog post, calling the MIT researchers’ work a “flawed report.”
These bugs could potentially allow bad actors to compromise existing vote tallies and the individual privacy of users. Following the release of the study in March, West Virginia announced that it would temporarily halt its use of Voatz for any future elections.
However, the technology was subsequently used during the Utah Republican state convention in April. Voatz CEO Nimit Sawhney stated the voting app “performed as expected” and processed 93% of registered delegate votes.