June 4, 2018

The United States has one of the lowest voter-turnout rates of any of the world's developed countries. Only about 56 percent of Americans of legal age to vote cast ballots in the 2016 presidential election. Compare this to South Korea and the Netherlands, where 77.9 percent and 77.3 percent of the voting age population turned up polls in 2017, and the contrast is alarming.

The reasons behind this phenomenon vary, from voters' reluctance to take time off from work to their dislike for standing in lines at polling places. The solution? Online voting, says recent graduate Haijing Henry Chen.

The ability to vote online can solve some of the critical problems in our elections, such as lack of voter participation and overcrowded polling places, he says.

That is why Chen developed the Secure Online Voting System (SOVOS) as his final project in the Systems Engineering program. A security-focused system engineering design for a modern online software application, SOVOS enables voters to quickly and easily vote in state and federal elections from their smartphones, tablets, and computers.

Designed to work in Maryland and to adhere to state and federal election laws, the system uses encryption to protect the integrity of each vote, produces a detailed audit of all system functions, and allows for manual recounts of votes. What's more, it defends against common known cyber-attack vectors and provides mitigation against zero-day attacks.

You can learn more about Chen’s Secure Online Voting System by reading his final presentation.

Chen is longtime Maryland resident and currently works as a software design engineer at KEYW in Columbia, Maryland. He earned his bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the University of Maryland and recently completed his master's in systems engineering (MSE) from Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering.

The Systems Engineering program at Johns Hopkins Engineering regularly highlights the design projects and in-depth thesis research of its students. We will continue to make these presentations available so that they can benefit the entire systems engineering community.