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The US Postal Service secretly tested a blockchain mobile phone voting system


Mobile voting hasn’t had much traction in the US, but that’s clearly not for lack of trying. The US Postal Service confirmed to Washington Post that it secretly developed and tested a mobile, blockchain-based voting system ahead of the 2020 elections. The project was purely “exploratory” and was abandoned in 2019 after University of Colorado researchers discovered security flaws, including impersonation risks, denial-of-service attacks and threatening “technologies” Privacy.

However, the lack of transparency may be what is most concerning. The USPS did not coordinate with other federal agencies, and required the university to sign a nondisclosure deal preventing them from naming the institution in question. Election security officials who had just learned about the blockchain voting project were worried that it could undermine confidence in a democratic system already damaged by unsupported allegations of massive fraud during the 2020 vote.

The mail service has studied e-voting before, but has focused its attention on those who cannot vote easily, such as soldiers and people with disabilities. This was a hands-on exercise that could have been applied to a large segment of the electorate, not just a small group that could not realistically use mail or personal ballot.

The end result was the same with or without testing: the 2020 elections continued to rely on paper ballots, and federal agencies focused more on creating a paper trail to reduce the chances of Russia and other actors to tamper with the vote. The revelation shows that there hasn’t been quite a united front, though, and suggests that smartphone voting efforts aren’t about to kick off any time soon.

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