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Need to cast a ballot from overseas? Denver now has an app for that

The city of Denver is testing a pilot program that would allow overseas voters to use an app.

DENVER — KUSA – The Denver Elections Division is looking for volunteers who are willing to try to cast their vote on a smartphone app during the 2019 election.

The volunteers must be deployed members of the military or active voters, according to a news release from Denver Elections.

The app will use Voatz -- the same blockchain encryption technology that was piloted in the state of West Virginia during the 2018 primary and generation elections, the release says. Voters participating in the pilot have to confirm their identity through the app via a 10-second selfie video along with a picture of their ID.

Next is “multifactor and biometric authentication,” according to the release. And, once ballots have been submitted, they’ll receive a PDF of their ballot information to confirm everything is accurate.

Jocelyn Bucaro, Denver’s deputy director of elections, said 80 people have signed up in the hours after the pilot was released. She said the app is ultimately more secure than it has been.

The previous system, Bucaro said, includes sending voters their ballot via email and requiring them to print an affidavit, signing it, and sending it back as an email attachment.

“Which is not the most secure way we should be asking our voters to cast their votes,” Bucaro said.

She said this technology has “a lot of promise” for populations that may have a difficult time voting traditionally, including people with disabilities.

“We think this is really promising,” Bucaro said. “There’s a road ahead before this can be widely accepted as a means for every voter to vote.”

Bucaro said Denver elections officials contacted West Virginia to ask about their program before moving forward.

According to a news release from West Virginia, their pilot program has been expanded to all 55 of the state’s counties. The motivation, according to West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner, was to bolster the historically low voter participation from people who live overseas.

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