Jun 7, 2019

Going mobile could get more Americans to vote

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Mobile voting, the mission of a Boston-based startup called Voatz, could be the answer to a problem in U.S. politics: Many Americans don't vote.

Driving the news: Even in the hotly-contested 2016 presidential race, only 58% of eligible voters showed up. Some of that may be apathy, but some is certainly the inconvenience of asking working adults to visit polling places on weekdays; particularly when some urban locations have lines that would make Walt Disney blush.

Where it stands: On Thursday, Voatz raised $7 million in Series A funding co-led by Medici Ventures and Techstars. It ran pilot tests last year in West Virginia, whereby overseas military could vote in real elections via smartphone rather than via paper mail. It also just completed a pilot in Denver's municipal elections, including both the regular election and a run-off.

  • It also opened itself up to a "citizen's audit" for the Denver elections — an important step given widespread security concerns about such a system.
  • Proceeds will be used, in part, to expand the technology to work with the disability community (i.e., people who have physical difficulty getting to polling locations).

Yes, but: CEO Nimit Sawhney acknowledges that this is really the pregame, not even early innings. The funding should last 18 months, and even best-case scenarios don't put smartphone voting in electoral gen-pop until 2024 or 2026. He says there are more jurisdictions signed up for tests over the next year.

My thought bubble: Honestly, this is one we should all be rooting for. No idea if Voatz's technology, which combines blockchain ledger verification with facial recognition, is how we ultimately get there. But at least it's trying to solve a real problem.

Go deeper: Pro Rata Podcast on mobile voting

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 1:30 a.m. ET: 5,695,155 — Total deaths: 355,688 — Total recoveries — 2,351,177Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 1:30 a.m. ET: 1,699,933 — Total deaths: 100,442 — Total recoveries: 391,508 — Total tested: 15,192,481Map.
  3. Public health: CDC issues guidelines for reopening officesFauci says data is "really quite evident" against hydroxychloroquine.
  4. States: California hospitals strained by patients in MexicoTexas Supreme Court blocks mail-in expansion to state voters.
  5. Business: MGM plans to reopen major Las Vegas resorts in June — African American business owners have seen less relief from PPP, Goldman Sachs says.
  6. Tech: AI will help in the pandemic — but it might not be in time for this one.
  7. World: EU proposes a massive pandemic rescue package.
  8. 1 🎶 thing: Local music venues get rocked by coronavirus.
  9. 🎧 Podcast: Trump vs. Twitter ... vs. Trump.
  10. What should I do? When you can be around others after contracting the coronavirus — Traveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  11. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 21 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Minneapolis unrest as hundreds protest death of George Floyd

Protesters and police clash during demonstration on Wednesday over the death of George Floyd in custody outside the Third Police Precinct. Photo: Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images

Minneapolis police clashed for a second night with protesters demonstrating the death of George Floyd, an African American man who died in police custody.

The latest: Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz tweeted late Wednesday that the situation where the clashes were taking place was "extremely dangerous" as he urged people to leave the area. There were multiple news reports of police firing tear gas at protesters and of some people looting a Target store.

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Photo: John Lamparski/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

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The big picture: CVS has faced legal scrutiny over its cash discount programs since 2015, and this lawsuit adds big names to a mounting problem.