As news of Trump trying to shut down the United States Postal Service (USPS) and stall mail-in voting captures the headlines, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office today made public a patent application from the USPS titled ‘Secure Voting System’ that describes using blockchain technology to secure mail-in voting.
The application is reported as filed on February 7, 2020, and the invention is described as, “A voting system that can use the security of blockchain and the mail to provide a reliable voting system. A registered voter receives a computer readable code in the mail and confirms identity and confirms correct ballot information in an election. The system separates voter identification and votes to ensure vote anonymity, and stores votes on a distributed ledger in a blockchain.”
Chief among Trumps’s complaints against mail-in voting are doubts about whether or not the person whose name is on the ballot actually cast the vote, and whether or not the ballot was tampered with after it was sent. In both instances blockchain offers tantalizing possible solutions. Blockchain identity services are already being widely developed and by moving the vote to a shared, distributed ledger, the votes would transmit almost instantly, drastically reducing the ballot’s vulnerability to tampering. The Postal Service had no comment at the time of publication.