Voatz, the four-year-old, Boston, Mass.-based voting and citizen engagement platform that has been at the center of debate over the merits and dangers of mobile voting, has raised $7 million in Series A funding. The round was co-led by Medici Ventures and Techstars, with participation from Urban Innovation Fund and Oakhouse Partners.
Voatz, which currently employs 17 people, is modeled after other software-as-a-service companies but geared toward election jurisdictions, working with state and local governments to conduct elections and provide related election management and cybersecurity services.
As we reported back in March, the city of Denver agreed to implement a mobile voting pilot in its May municipal election using Voatz’s technology, an opportunity that was offered exclusively to active-duty military, their eligible dependents and overseas voters using their smartphones.
The company hasn’t yet shared how many people wound up using the platform. As Voatz co-founder and CEO Nimit Sawhney told us late yesterday, “Our most recent election in Denver finished last night on June 4th and the post-election audit will be beginning shortly.”
Denver was not the company’s first pilot program. Rather, Voatz had conducted more than 30 pilots previously, including two in West Virginia last year that attracted the financial backing of Tusk Philanthropies, the philanthropic operation of investor and strategist Bradley Tusk.
As for where Voatz will be used next, Sawhney says to “stay tuned. The next phase of our pilot programs will be announced by the relevant jurisdictions a bit later in the summer.”
Voatz has become the best-known mobile voting app, which has also made it the target of some unflattering attention, including last summer, when numerous security experts criticized it roundly in a Vanity Fair piece. One said it was “going to backfire.” Another warned that the “United States needs some form of vetting process for online voting in elections.” A software expert separately called Voatz a “horrifically bad idea.”
Apparently investors, along with a growing number of city and state governments, are still willing to bet that it’s better than what’s currently available.
Voatz had previously raised $2.2 million in funding, led by the venture arm of Overstock.com.