As election season arrives in the United States, the concern for safe and secure voting is increasing, especially in the middle of a pandemic where many people are unable to vote in-person. Mail-in-voting is considered to be the next best option; however, President Donald Trump has made repeated verbal attacks against the mail-in-voting system, saying, “Mail ballots are very dangerous for this country because of cheaters. They go collect them. They are fraudulent in many cases. They have to vote. They should have voter ID, by the way.”
Many government officials, including FBI Director Christopher Wray, have contradicted the President’s words, stating, “We have not seen, historically, any kind of coordinated national voter fraud effort in a major election, whether it’s by mail or otherwise.”
In an attempt to introduce a more reliable voting system, the USPS has filed a patent for blockchain mail-in-voting. According to Investopedia, “in its most basic form, blockchain is a digital ledger,” essentially recording all transactions. With encryption and decentralization of the information, “blockchain’s database of transactions is incorruptible, and each record is easily verifiable.” The most important feature of blockchain technology is that “the network cannot be taken down or influenced by a single party because it doesn’t exist in one place.”
The USPS created a mail-in voting system as a result of the high level of security that blockchain has to offer. The patent states that the process begins when “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.”
The technical lead at blockchain network Hedera Hashgraph, Paul Madsen, also explained that blockchain voting could quell concerns of double voting because “the votes of individual voters would be recorded, either on the blockchain or effectively timestamped and then recorded elsewhere.”
Although it seems unlikely that blockchain voting will be ready in time for the 2020 elections as many mail-in-ballots have already been sent out, the method seems very promising for the future of elections to come.