Is the Postal Service Working on Blockchain-based Voting?

  • Last year, the U.S. Postal Service applied for a patent that describes a blockchain-based “secure voting system.” Last week, it became public record.
  • The system, if approved, would involve mailing citizens a computer-readable code that validates both identity and ballot information, all while maintaining anonymity.
  • It could also account for most of President Trump’s unfounded claims about mail-in voting fraud.

The United States Postal Service (USPS) is in the crosshairs of a mail-in voting clash, with President Donald Trump blocking supplementary funding for the independent mail agency—which has financially suffered throughout the COVID-19 pandemic—and Democrats likening the move to “sabotage.”

It all adds up to disaster for the integrity of the 2020 presidential election. The USPS has warned all 50 states and Washington, D.C. that mail-in ballots might not arrive to election offices in a timely manner for counting, and mail-sorting machines are disappearing from facility lines with little to no explanation.

Now, the USPS appears to be working on a 21st-century alternative to traditional absentee ballots: blockchain-based mail-in voting. If true, it could ease Trump’s fears about voting fraud.

The Postal Service filed a patent application on February 7, 2019 for a “secure voting system.” The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) made the application public on August 13, following a routine 18-month quiet period.

The new-age voting system, if approved and implemented, would use a combination of traditional mail and machine-readable code. Specifically, the USPS would deliver registered voters a barcode of sorts that confirms identity and ballot information when uploaded online.

“The system separates voter identification and votes to ensure vote anonymity, and stores votes on a distributed ledger in a blockchain,” the inventors explain in the patent abstract.

Copyright @ 2020 Popular Mechanics

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