Exterior signage on the front of the United States Post Office building in Scottsdale, Arizona on May 25, 2017. Jessica Kirsh/Shutterstock
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States Postal Service (USPS) has filed a patent for a new vote-by-mail election system, which uses blockchain technology to make mail-in voting a safe alternative to polling stations.
Published on Thursday, the application describes a system that combines the “dependability and security” of the USPS with blockchain technology in order to “prevent tempering” of electronic ballots. The news come shortly after mail-in voting became a hot topic in the United States, with the President of the country, Donald J. Trump opposing the move as it could open the door to potential voter fraud. The patent application reads:
“This development relates to a voting system that also incorporates the use of cryptographic elements, such as blockchains, as are used with cryptographic currencies, to track and secure the vote by mail system.”
Remarking that voters want a “convenient” means to access the polls, USPS has proposed a number of different frameworks and concepts around its central idea of blockchain-based voting. The U.S. postal service has proposed mailing out token-linked QR codes, distributing scannable paper passcodes to the voting system, as well as storing voter identification, electronic voting signatures and the votes themselves on the blockchain. The patent detailed that:
“In some embodiments, a blockchain allows the tracking of the various types of necessary data in a way that is secure and allows others to easily confirm that data has not been altered.”
President Trump is not only against mail-in voting, as it has the risk of potential voter fraud, but is trying to fight it. A recent article by CNBC has claimed that the President of the United States was considering withholding additional funding for the USPS, as a way to prevent the expanded mail-in voting plans. Trump reportedly said that:
“They’re admitting that they want $3.5 billion, and they’re not going to do a deal that’s good for the American people. Therefore, they’re not going to get the $3.5 billion. Therefore, they can’t do the universal mail-in vote.”