July 9, 2020  |  BOSTON

Scientists, academics, and researchers usually come together in the spirit of curiosity and discovery, and in defense of experimentation and research. Earlier this year, a group of academics and scientists signed a letter penned by Verified Voting to the Governor of Puerto Rico arguing that it is “settled science” that the internet is not safe and therefore consideration of electronic voting of any kind should be categorically rejected. In short, they argued that a pilot project that was to be launched in November 2020, and likely to conclude in 2028, an eight-year period of study and deliberation, should be stopped. It sounds a bit like asking Alan Turing to not even attempt to build the Enigma code breaking machine.

The letter’s central premise — that the scientific process should be halted on some notion of “settled science” — undermines the very foundation of scientific endeavor. America, its research institutions, and the technology industry are leaders because we have consistently eschewed the concept of “settled science” and found game-changing solutions in everything from medicine to space exploration to quantum computing. This should be our approach to electronic balloting. We should not abandon piloting and experimentation — the very basis of scientific discovery. For instance, after Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico, Alphabet’s Project Loon delivered emergency mobile phone service to roughly 200,000 people, a feat unimaginable without lessons from previous experiments, learnings from the field, and a deep sense of urgency.

This is especially true for our critical infrastructure. Right now, our elections have significant gaps that disenfranchise segments of the population that cannot vote in person or using postal mail — particularly in the middle of a global pandemic. If the scientific community were to abandon experimentation, we would lose all hope of building resilient systems. If anything is settled, it is the full acknowledgment that voting in America is broken. To begin building a resilient system, all of us should invest in exploring every option available to us. The building blocks are already in place due to the remarkable innovations by some leading American companies like Apple, Amazon, Google, and Microsoft. 

If we are committed to delivering the right to vote to every eligible citizen, we must not impede science, but rather combine our resources to enable science to build a better system.

Voatz believes all technology should be considered, vetted, and tested carefully — including ours, which is why we've made it our mission to advocate and invest in well-designed pilots. Just last week, we successfully completed our 67th election (11th governmental pilot) with record-breaking turnout among UOCAVA and disabled voters.


Last year, Time Magazine released a great, long-form article with a deep dive into the legacy of U.S. innovation and its impact on the economy and competitiveness. As the article describes, innovation has mainly been funded by the federal government, universities and corporate labs. For example, in the 1980s the National Science Foundation and a consortium of other federal agencies funded the The Digital Libraries Initiative, which led to the creation of BackRub and PageRank. These indexed the World Wide Web and created the internet as we use it today.

The article describes how, over the last few decades, federal research and development spending has decreased significantly — "once the world leader, the United States now ranks twelfth in government-funded R&D spending as a percentage of GDP.” The article is supported by data from The Atlantic Council report from 2017.

With the drop in funding, Eric Lander, leader of the Genome Project, questions “...whether America will yield its position as the world’s leader in science and technology. For the first time since World War II, our primacy is in jeopardy.”

Read more: How America Risks Losing Its Innovation Edge


Overstock CEO: How blockchain can help pull us out of the coronavirus recession →

Voatz investor and champion Jonathan Johnson writes in Fortune Magazine on how blockchain will help pull America out of the coronavirus ditch. He highlights Voatz’s role in helping people exercise their right to vote in a safe and secure way.
Virus vs. voting: Behind the high-risk presidential primary elections →

Smart Cities Dive published a well-researched article on the challenges with existing options for voting. Hilary Braseth, Chief of Staff at Voatz was quoted in the story: “We see the future as younger generations demanding a way to verify their own vote. That's the paradigm we're building toward. And everyone can participate in auditing.”


New York Voters With Disabilities Left Out of the Absentee Voting System

Accustomed to voting at the polls but compelled by COVID-19 to vote absentee, disabled voters had to surmount obstacles that an unprepared state inflicted on them.


The history of the US ballot is a fascinating journey through the making of a democracy

The US prides itself on being the oldest modern democracy—its 244th anniversary is this weekend—and yet it’s only been an actual one for a century at best: It wasn’t until 1920 and the recognition of women’s suffrage that the whole adult population was, at least theoretically, recognized the right to vote. Effectively, however, it’s truly only since 1965 that the Voting Rights Act removed obstacles for Black citizens to vote, making full democracy in the US a pretty young enterprise.


Delayed Election Results Could Test Social Media Companies as Never Before

Election day 2020 is going to be like nothing the American republic has ever seen, and it’s time to set some realistic expectations about the months leading up to Nov. 3 and the chaos that may follow until inauguration day—particularly if social media platforms aren’t prepared. First: Don’t expect results on election night.



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