Could the US Postal Service’s Blockchain Be Built on the Ethereum Network?
According to documents published late last week on the United States Patent and Trademark Office Website, the USPS has filed a patent application for a blockchain-based mail in voting system. The filing mentions that the blockchain platform could be built on the Ethereum open-source software platform, though it is not clear if the platform will ever be built.
The patent abstract, whether it is based on Ethereum or not, states that a “voting system can use security of blockchain and mail to provide reliable voting.” This means that a blockchain-based mail in voting system could be used for mail-in elections to make them safer and less susceptible to fraud.
Computer-readable codes would be used to verify identity. “A registered voter receives in the mail a computer-readable number that confirms his identity and confirms that he has submitted correct ballot information for an election.” To ensure anonymity of votes, the system seperates voter identification from vote votes and stores them on a distributed ledger in blockchain.
Blockchain could be used to address concerns regarding voter fraud by mail.
This patent was originally filed in February. It follows closely on the claims of US President Donald Trump that mail-in voting would lead to “ballots all around the place” and fraudulent ballots titled “after dogs or dead people”.
Trump is also reported to be blocking funding for USPS under a new coronavirus relief program, citing similar concerns about mail-in voter fraud. However, many studies have proven that mail-in voter fraud has been rare.
It is highly unlikely that a blockchain-based system will be developed and implemented before November’s elections. However, it is possible for a blockchain-based mail in voting system to increase efficiency and security.
The patent states that “the security of a vote system can be improved by using the dependability, security of the United States Postal Service (or similar entity) and this can be incorporated into a secure computer system using blockchain or distributed ledger in order to ensure vote security as well as prevent tampering with electronic voting results.”
The patent did not indicate when or if the system would be developed, tested or implemented.
In 2016, the USPS Office of the Inspector General encouraged the post office’s exploration of possible uses of blockchain technology. Forbes reported four areas of potential use for blockchain technology were discovered through the exploration. They are: 1) Financial Management; 2) Device Management; 3) Identity Services and 4) Supply Chain Management.
The patent publication follows the announcement last week by Lael Brainard, the United States Federal Reserve Governor, that the Fed was actively researching and testing the possible development a U.S. central banking digital currency (CBDC).