News Flash

All News

Posted on: December 3, 2019

Pierce County to continue mobile voting after successful military pilot

In support of the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) and the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act, Pierce County Elections successfully piloted an expansion of electronic balloting in the November 2019 General Election. 

The driving force behind the pilot was the threat of a United States withdrawal from the Universal Postal Union. The Universal Postal Union is a United Nations agency that facilitates postal services between 192 member countries. The withdrawal would have disrupted international postal services and required alternative arrangements for UOCAVA to receive or return of balloting materials. 

To comply with the MOVE Act, Pierce County ballots had to be mailed to UOCAVA voters by Sept. 21, 2019. The fate of the Universal Postal Union was to be decided Sept. 24-25, 2019.  If a resolution wasn’t reached, the U.S. would withdraw from the Union on Oct. 17, 2019. 

“The imminent withdrawal from the Postal Union created an imperative. Knowing that the biggest barrier for military voters is the transit time to receive and return a ballot, we weren’t willing to risk additional delays,” said Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson, responsible for elections. 

Voatz, a mobile elections platform, was used in the pilot. Eligible registered voters received, marked, verified and submitted their ballots using their personal Apple or Android smartphones. Votes were submitted from 28 countries over the Internet; blockchain technology was used to secure the aggregate vote. 

Voatz uses blockchain technology to store encrypted voting data distributed across 32 U.S. based servers managed equally by Amazon and Microsoft. The voting data is anonymized with an unidentifiable ID number for each ballot and receipt. The process disaggregates any information that could be used to trace its source and votes cast are tamper-proof.

Pierce County’s 19,000 UOCAVA voters are normally permitted to return their ballots by mail, fax, or email attachment. The pilot provided UOCAVA voters a fourth option: Download the Voatz mobile app and transmit a ballot using their mobile device over the Internet and immutably stored on the blockchain.  

Without any prompting, voters used the mobile voting option at a higher rate than fax or email.  In the November 2019 General Election, 103 UOCAVA voters used FAX or email and 163 voters used the mobile voting option. Mail, as usual, was the primary method of ballot returns (2,481 ballots returned by postal service). 

Facsimile and email alternatives are substandard, according to Anderson. Ballots returned by facsimile are often missing important pages and aren’t machine-readable. Ballots and declarations returned as email attachments present significant cybersecurity risks and arrive in a wide-variety of formats ranging from pictures of ballots lying on the floor to pixelated low resolution images.  

Anderson went on to say, “If we want every UOCAVA ballot to be counted accurately and privately, and we want to mitigate the risks of mail disruption, we need a different transmission solution. A secure mobile app that uses encryption to transmit voter-verified ballots is long overdue and desperately needed in an age of global conflict, severe weather events, and international trade disputes.”  

“Pierce County had an excellent experience with the Voatz pilot. We intend to continue offering mobile voting as an option for overseas voters. Pierce County sees this as a safe and secure alternative for UOCAVA voters.  We also see future potential for voters with disabilities– especially those who are blind or have difficulty handling paper and pens.  A secure mobile voting app could be an important accommodation,” said Anderson.

Voatz CEO and Co-Founder Nimit Sawhney was pleased with the pilot. "We’ve been thrilled to partner with Pierce County to extend our mobile voting platform to Pierce’s voters. We look forward to the future of this technology, which we hope can continue to be part of the movement of making our elections as equipped, ready and resilient for the future,” said Mr. Sawhney.

The November 2019 pilot received financial assistance from the National Cybersecurity Center, supported by Tusk Philanthropies.

Pierce County has issued a request for proposals for a mobile voting solution and expects to have a paid vendor under contract in time for Washington State’s March 10, 2020 Presidential Primary. 

About Pierce County Elections

A division of the Pierce County Auditor’s Office, Pierce County Elections has the largest UOCAVA population in Washington State and is a leader in election innovation, resilience, and access. Pierce County is Washington State’s second largest county and has 520,000 active registered voters, of which 19,000 are UOCAVA voters. Washington State has used Vote by Mail exclusively since 2011 and recently adopted Same Day Registration. 

About Voatz

Voatz is an award-winning mobile elections platform that uses biometrics and a blockchain-based infrastructure via compatible smartphones and tablets. Since 2016, Voatz has run numerous elections with towns, cities, states, both major state political parties, universities, and unions. In 2018, in partnership with the State of West Virginia, Voatz ran the first mobile blockchain vote for UOCAVA voters in a federal election. In 2019, the City and County of Denver, Utah County, and two counties in Oregon (Jackson and Umatilla) also selected Voatz to enable UOCAVA citizens to vote in their municipal general and runoff elections.  


Julie Anderson, Pierce County Auditor


[email protected]

Nimit Sawhney, Voatz CEO and Co-Founder


[email protected]

Facebook Twitter Email

Other News in All News

Apply for a historic preservation grant

Posted on: September 3, 2021

Primary Election at a glance

Posted on: July 15, 2021

Huge Creek receives new culvert

Posted on: June 21, 2021
medicaid pierceADRC

Learn the basics of Medicaid

Posted on: May 3, 2021

Tools and techniques to avoid scams

Posted on: February 17, 2021
talking with your doctor

Get the most out of your doctor visit

Posted on: January 29, 2021

Help shape the future of Orangegate Park

Posted on: December 15, 2020

Apply for a historic preservation grant

Posted on: November 24, 2020

Fantasy Lights opens Nov. 21

Posted on: November 17, 2020

Spread love, not the flu this year

Posted on: October 22, 2020
MAC and TSOA training

New supports for caregivers at home

Posted on: October 9, 2020

Haunted Headlights tickets now on sale

Posted on: October 1, 2020

Pierce County property taxes due by Nov. 2

Posted on: September 18, 2020

Funny film explores outsourcing retirement

Posted on: February 19, 2020

Get the most out of your doctor visit

Posted on: January 6, 2020

County observes Thanksgiving holiday

Posted on: November 27, 2019

Thornewood Castle to host Council meeting

Posted on: November 27, 2019

Film focuses on early onset dementia

Posted on: October 23, 2019

Nov. 5 General Election at a glance

Posted on: October 23, 2019

County observes Veterans Day

Posted on: November 11, 2020

District Court early closure, Sept. 16

Posted on: September 7, 2016
Labor Day

County observes Labor Day, Sept. 5

Posted on: September 2, 2016

Heat advisory notice and options

Posted on: August 18, 2016

Video News: Tourism Special

Posted on: August 18, 2016

Tips for staying safe on 4th of July

Posted on: June 30, 2016

Video News: Tourism Special

Posted on: June 2, 2016

Grandparenting has a new look

Posted on: June 1, 2016

Passing of Robin McKinney

Posted on: May 4, 2016

Jury duty scams on the rise

Posted on: April 8, 2016

Pierce County is looking to lease

Posted on: February 3, 2016

Board of Equalization seeks members

Posted on: January 13, 2016

Video News: Best of the last 10 years

Posted on: January 4, 2016

Video News: Best of 2015

Posted on: December 29, 2015
Treecycle image

Treecycle your Christmas tree

Posted on: December 22, 2015

Emergency Operations Center open

Posted on: December 9, 2015

Sheriff's Community Academy openings

Posted on: December 7, 2015

County observes Veterans Day

Posted on: November 9, 2015

Video News: The Trails of Pierce County

Posted on: October 9, 2015

Free CPR Sunday event at Foss High School

Posted on: September 23, 2015

Video News: Best of the U.S. Open

Posted on: September 11, 2015

Parks and Recreation Touch A Truck event

Posted on: September 8, 2015

County observes Labor Day

Posted on: September 4, 2015

Police help seniors to be safe at home

Posted on: September 2, 2015

Sheriff's Community Academy openings

Posted on: July 28, 2015

Video News: Best of the U.S. Open

Posted on: July 16, 2015

Referendum qualifies for ballot

Posted on: July 10, 2015

Video News: Tourism Special

Posted on: July 6, 2015

County observes Independence Day

Posted on: July 2, 2015

Excessive heat advisory issued

Posted on: June 25, 2015

County observes Presidents' Day on Feb. 16

Posted on: February 13, 2015

Boundary Review Board seeks applicants

Posted on: February 12, 2015

Sheriff's Community Academy openings

Posted on: February 9, 2015

Road work postponed on 66th Avenue East

Posted on: February 6, 2015

County observes MLK on Jan. 19

Posted on: January 16, 2015

Volunteer for Civil Service Commission

Posted on: January 9, 2015

Learn how to use Social Security

Posted on: December 30, 2014

Video News: Best of 2014 Special

Posted on: December 29, 2014

Tips to treecycle your Christmas tree

Posted on: December 22, 2014

Dementia: Setting the Record Straight

Posted on: November 3, 2014

District Court early closure on Sept. 12

Posted on: September 5, 2014

Your feet may be telling you something

Posted on: August 29, 2014

Video News: Farming Special

Posted on: August 28, 2014

Video News: Tourism Special

Posted on: July 24, 2014

County offices closed May 26

Posted on: May 26, 2013

Video News: Farming Special

Posted on: April 3, 2014

Pay your property taxes online

Posted on: March 18, 2014

Brookdale Road sewer project resumes

Posted on: March 7, 2014

County offices closed Feb. 17

Posted on: February 14, 2014

Sheriff's Community Academy openings

Posted on: February 7, 2014

County offices closed Jan. 20

Posted on: January 17, 2014

County Council elects Dan Roach as chair

Posted on: January 14, 2014

Homeless Coalition seeks volunteers

Posted on: January 9, 2014

Video News: Aviation Special

Posted on: January 2, 2014

Video News: Best of 2013 Special

Posted on: December 20, 2013

Video News: 2013 Economic Special

Posted on: December 20, 2013

Tips to treecycle your Christmas tree

Posted on: December 20, 2013

New levee will protect people, help salmon

Posted on: December 19, 2013

County offices closed Nov. 11

Posted on: November 8, 2013

Tips to prepare now for flood season

Posted on: November 4, 2013

Learn how to decipher Health Care Reform

Posted on: October 21, 2013
Pierce County Votes badge

‘I Voted’ badge goes digital

Posted on: October 17, 2013

PCTV wins 5 first-place programming awards

Posted on: September 27, 2013