The USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office) has published a patent application filed by the USPS. The patent claims that a combination of blockchain security and messaging service provides a reliable voting system. A registered voter receives a QR code by mail. A main feature of the solution is a separation of voter identification and votes to ensure voter anonymity. Votes are stored on a blockchain certified by election officials. Obviously, this patent is too late to be developed and deployed for this election
In the midst of a pandemic, the USPS is the only trusted national agency capable of handling large-scale non-in-person voting. The US Postal Service has been doing this for many years and is part of the electoral infrastructure of the United States. Postal and postal ballots that use the same infrastructure have been part of the electoral system for many years. The challenges and the scale are very different this year.
As with all patents, it tries to be too broad, listing every permutation and combination of election model storage, votes cast, tabulation, certifying results, and audits are presented. The main element, pairing USPS mail and blockchain and other databases with a mobile voting component is the main claim. It is not clear whether voter identification and the ballots themselves are completely dissociated without link data to ensure anonymity. Paper backups, verifiable by the voters themselves, are also a condition of verification. It is not clear from the patent that this requirement is met.
Election experts, practitioners and technology theorists must work together to ensure the sanctity of democracy. It might be too much to ask, but maybe a common goal should bind us all. The USPS is a natural institution for developing, testing, and deploying a solution.