Votem is a voting platform that enables citizens and voters to cast their votes through their mobile device. I have the pleasure of talking to Pete Martin who is the CEO of Votem. We will be learning more about Pete, the team behind Votem, how it all started, where it is headed, and how voters and/or investors can benefit from using Votem.
Thank you for putting time aside for the interview! Could you tell us where you are from, what were you doing before you got involved with Votem, and what led you to pursue Votem.
Votem is located in Cleveland, Ohio and is my fifth company launched here. The idea for Votem sprouted back in 2014. I had just sold my consulting business and, in contemplating what to do next, attended a conference hosted by XPrize Founder Peter Diamandis.
Sitting with 200 other CEOs and entrepreneurs, we were asked to come up with a ‘moonshot impact statement’ that would define their life’s work and become their legacy. More specifically, we were asked to come up with an idea that would positively impact a billion people. Putting pen to paper, I unconsciously wrote down: “mobile voting.” These two words have since become my obsession and intended life legacy.
The Votem team seems to have lots of experiences from Software engineering, to Security Research — how did you find your team?
Votem positions itself between the tech-savvy blockchain entrepreneurs who don’t understand the intricacies of running elections and the traditional election systems manufacturers who rely heavily on traditional voting methods. Our approach is rooted in a deep understanding of both voter behavior and the demands of election officials and legislators. Our team is comprised of seasoned entrepreneurs, tenured academics, and experienced election experts with the business leadership, domain expertise, and technical prowess to execute on our plans.
We found and built our team by looking for those people who believe in our mission to make voting more accessible and verifiable. Our mission sits right at the intersection of social impact, technology, and government and as a result, we were able to attract people with strong experience in all of these fields from private sector to academia; it’s an amazing team focused on making voting better than it’s ever been.
Consider me as an average Joe that you meet at a gas station and we have small talk while pumping gas into our vehicles. I tell you that I have heard about cryptocurrency and that I am looking to diversify my portfolio. How would you explain Votem in a simplistic way for an average Joe like myself to understand?
For public elections (and many private ones), most people take time off work, if they can get it, to go to a polling station and fill-in a paper ballot. That process feels comfortable to most people. But if you think about it, how do you know, REALLY know, that your vote was counted? Most of the time, you trust that the great people that run elections did their job and processed the ballots properly. But in an era where you can order something on Amazon and track the package all the way to your front door step, we can do better. We can give the average voter the ability to independently verify and prove that their ballot was counted exactly like they wanted, without compromising their identity nor how they voted. And do so more easily and securely than in most voting environments today.
Prior to the website acquiring its new form, there were some mentions of different states that has used Votem. could you tell us more about how they were involved and the results? How does Votem implement blockchain technology in its product(s)?
In early 2016, to jump-start our efforts, we acquired a mobile-voting business unit from Michigan-based voting-systems vendor Konnech. We acquired their software platform and related mobile apps along with their customers and contracts. From the acquisition of that business, we successfully supported online registration and ballot marking for military and overseas voters for the State of Montana and Washington DC, and supported voters in Detroit with their private-labeled apps in the 2016 primary and general elections (and special elections in 2017). In parallel, we developed a private election voting platform built on the Tendermint blockchain framework and operated the “Fan Vote” for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as well as several other private elections. We have successfully tallied over 8.2 million blockchain votes from people in 100 different countries without compromise.
Will Votem have a token in the future? I believe there was a private round for investors.
Yes, we are offering a Simple Agreement for Future Tokens (SAFT) the VAST Token, which stands for verifiability, accessibility, security, and transparency. The public presale for the SAFT launched February 27th and runs until March 29th, 2018. The public token sale will be in Q3 2018.
Could you talk about Votem’s aspirations to reach the said market of more than 90,000 elected bodies.
Our goal is to make our platform the best and most logical option to host elections of all kinds! While public elections tend to come to people’s minds when they think of voting systems, we also work with private organizations like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Ohio State Bar Association. The adaptability of our platform allows us to target a larger portion of the voting market then competitors who specify in niche elections.
Where do you see Votem heading in the next five years and how can you give us a roadmap on how Votem will reach there?
The first major step is to complete the certification of our platform through the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission’s (EAC) federal certification process. As the US has some the strictest elections requirements for vendors globally, by passing this certification, we believe that we will be able to offer private and public sector clients a voting platform that meets some of the highest standards for security, accuracy, scalability, and operational effectiveness. Our mission is to have 1 billion people around the world vote through the Votem platform using their mobile device by 2025, so we will continue to work towards making this a reality.
What instances can Votem be used in? Example: If I had a large corporation and wanted to conduct a poll on prefer Executive runner ups, could votem be used in this case?
Yes, we have experience running both public and private elections. When running private elections in the past, we have reported much higher turnouts than in the past elections. Votem’s VAST tokens are an affordable and secure way to guarantee the integrity and success of an election. VAST tokens will allow secure access to the VAST network and CastIron™ platform, the first VAST-powered application; they afford the functionality and features to successfully operate elections and ancillary activities.
I believe Voters must be registered citizens of their country to vote — how will Votem be able to determine whether an individual is a registered citizen and eligible to vote?
Voter registration is in fact a really difficult piece of the puzzle. Ultimately, for political elections, we have to work within the confines of whatever laws and regulations are in place by the government organization with whom we’re working. Some jurisdictions may require checking address and social security against a Voter Registration record, others may require bio-metric authentication against a Voter Registration record, and for less political elections (things like fan votes or polling) there may not even be voter registration involved. Our platform will be flexible enough to accommodate any type of voter authentication process, but at the end of the day, the law often dictates how to authenticate people against voter registration records for eligibility in an election.
Thank you for your time! Are there any final words you would like to tell the Altcoin Community?
Thank you so much for this discussion and please direct your audience to our Token Sale site at votem.io and our telegram channel so that we can build a strong global community of people that want to improve democracy with us!
Votem seems to have good traction with a working product, and a solid team that has extensive experience in different fields in order to help move the project forward. Based on what they have done thus far, the goals that are in place which are actively being worked on, and a strong foundation that they seem to currently have, I think their token could be one for your portfolio. Their public token sale is scheduled sometime between July 1st, and September 30th 2018. Let’s keep an eye out on VOTEM!