George Mason University
George Mason University Mason
George Mason University

Cybersecurity expert creates app to help voters locate ballot drop boxes

October 22, 2020   /   by Nanci Hellmich

“I worked on this project in my spare time. It was the perfect opportunity to combine my passion for programming with my desire to use information technology for social good.”

— Max Albanese, associate professor in the Department of Information Sciences and Technology

Max Albanese, an associate professor in the Department of Information Sciences and Technology, drops off his mail-in ballot. He created an app, MyBallotBox to help voters locate mail-in drop-box locations. It's available from Apple in its app store.

Mason Engineering cybersecurity researcher Massimiliano (Max) Albanese studies the minds and methods of cybercriminals to develop better ways to defend computer systems.

But during his free time this summer, he turned his attention to a different problem­­­­—the need for people to know where to locate drop-off boxes for mail-in ballots.

“In August, I came up with the idea of creating a free app to help people locate drop-off boxes in their area,” says Albanese, an associate professor in the Department of Information Sciences and Technology.

“I collected drop-box location data from official sources and developed the app, called myBallotBox, which is available from Apple in its app store,” Albanese says.

So far, he has gathered information from 32 states and the District of Columbia, and more data is being added every day. “We are in the middle of a pandemic, and people don’t want to go into a polling place to vote,” he says.

Plus, some people don’t trust the post office to deliver the ballots in time to be counted, so they would like to drop them off at a secure location instead, he says. “It was this set of unprecedented circumstances that prompted me to take this initiative.

The data is also available through a web interface that voters can access through this link. Users can find detailed information about ballot drop-off locations by simply selecting their state from a drop-down menu and then clicking on markers on the map.

“I worked on this project in my spare time,” he says. “It was the perfect opportunity to combine my passion for programming with my desire to use information technology for social good.”

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