The conclusion seems obvious: if there is a threat to the mail-in voting system then a public system of tracking should be implemented to allow voters to track their ballots directly to the election authorities. This would provide an immeasurable benefit to the electoral system.
There are estimates that mail theft is up 600%, and filled out ballots are being found thrown away in random places on a weekly basis. Many are receiving multiple ballots, for former residents, for deceased person, for relatives… It can be concluded that many voters have no idea whether their votes are counted at all.
Why not put the ballots on the blockchain to allow their tracking by the public and any other authorities, like law enforcement? This would be a simple process with each state, which can set up a platform on top of the Ethereum chain, or any other less crowded chain such as Tezos, and then placing a tracking code on each ballot that would allow a voter to scan the code with a cell phone or tablet wallet QR scanner before mailing, and fill out some personal information such as name address and ID number, which would then allow access to a tracking screen which would track each ballot to its final destination. Within a family or group one cell phone can be used to track all votes within a group; for example a group of seniors being taken care of by a home aide or non-English speakers. The identity of the person who was aggregating multiple ballots on a single device could be obtained as well to preserve the chain of custody
The initial scan after mailing would occur by the postal carrier which would update the status of the ballot to ‘in transit’ or similar on the voters’ tracking screen. This is to ensure that the ballot’s whereabouts are accounted for as being the responsibility of the carrier, in case something goes wrong. This is certainly similar to a standard tracking code, except that the blockchain system would allow tracking and updates by multiple parties, not only the carrier. The state election authorities would also scan the ballot to update it’s status once received, and once it is counted. The chain of custody would be secure and indisputable.
Of course, this tracking mechanism would not be decentralized, meaning the state election authorities would be the sole managers and guardians of the tracking software; however, any fraud would be far more difficult than it is now to carry out, since someone on the recipient’s side would need to scan the ballot to show that it has been delivered and then counted, which ideally would be different parties. If this does not occur then a query would be initiated to begin an investigation into the location of the ballot and another ballot issued or the voter would need to vote in person. The party in charge of custody at the time of the ballot’s disappearance would need to account for the situation whether it was an accident or deliberate mishandling. Repeated grievances should signal termination of the processing party.
The security of the voting system can no longer be left to chance and to those who would misuse it. For those who don’t have cell phones to scan the ballot code or don’t speak English or don’t understand the new system and are subject to illegal vote harvesting by nefarious actors, they would need 3rd party assistance, such as family or friends to scan the ballot and track it’s whereabouts. Assistance from others would allow all those involved to become accountable for filling out their ballot, in that most people would not likely sell their ballot to allow it to be filled out by a 3rd party.
In any case, suspicious activity with respect to any particular locality regarding ballots, such as many un-scanned un-tracked ballots on the blockchain being sent out, or numerous un-tracked ballots dropped off at a voting center would allow authorities to initiate an investigation as to how the ballots were filled out. The blockchain can become mainstream within a few years.