Redesigning the American Voting System – Part 1: The Challenge

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Typically user experience design and government don’t play well together.  If you don’t know what I mean, go to the Post Office or Department of Motor Vehicles, or see our review of the early version of Healthcare.gov.  So when an opportunity arose to apply human factors research and design to improve the voting process, Intuitive Company was eager participate.

Voting is a something that seems relatively simple on the surface – select a preferred option from a set of defined choices – but can be challenging in practice, best exemplified by the infamous Palm Beach County ballot from the 2000 election:

confusion over Palm Beach ballotRecreated from the Sun-Sentinel graphic

But voting is much more than casting a ballot.  It is a systemic process that includes registration, gathering information, training volunteers, and completing absentee ballots to name a few key elements.

Earlier this year, the Human Factors & Ergonomics Society put out a call to “Design the Voting System of Tomorrow.” The challenge is to create a “cutting-edge, innovative, and interactive user experience that would redefine the future of voting” and will be based on criteria including:

  • Innovation: What sets this voting experience apart from the current voting experience?
  • Intuitiveness (of course): Is the new voting system easy to use? Does this system engage users? Does the system make the voting experience comfortable?
  • Completeness: This is not just about user interface design, this is about the
    entire voting experience. Have multiple facets of voter experience Design the Voting System of Tomorrow been considered – design of voting venues, voter education, ballot simplicity, training of poll works, to name a few? Have voters with disabilities and non-English proficient voters been considered in the design of the system?

Intuitive Company has assembled a team of researchers, designers and developers to address this challenge.  Over the coming months we’ll be documenting our process, findings and design solutions leading up to a prototype in October.  Next time we’ll discuss how we’re framing the project and some of our initial research findings.  Stay tuned.

About the Author

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Andrew Harvard

User Experience Designer