Election Ballots Design

Election Ballots Design

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The above figure is taken from Effective Designs for the Administration of Federal Election

As the whole world is waiting for who's going to be the next US president, I came across this interesting interview on ballet design and usability this morning. I learnt a lot about the history and design thinking went behind designing election ballots, and hopefully there's no "Florida recount" again.

Below are some highlights I found particularly interesting from the interview:

  • The design specifications for printed ballots are published by the US Election Assistance Commission called Effective Designs for the Administration of Federal Elections
  • "How difficult has it been to get legislators and politicians to understand the value of design and usability? Some of the problems are the same in the public and private sectors. How do I fit this into my already-tight election cycle? How do I get design and usability for free (or for cheap)? What if there are hideous things that I don’t have time to fix? In the end, it comes down to two things: a) the possibility of getting bad press; and b) how much will it cost if something goes wrong and we have to do recounts (which usually also involve multiple law suits)."
  • "What can designers and usability experts do to help support improving ballots in the future? Sign up to be poll workers. It is estimated that 2 million poll workers will be needed for the election on November 4. There’s nothing like observing real people use a design in real time. Take note of the types of questions voters ask."
  • And lastly the tragic failure example at a voting booth is hilarious: Voting a completely empty ballot on an electronic machine because the touches on the screen did not register. When we asked the participant how confident she was that she voted as she intended, she said she was very confident. When we asked her if she had noticed that the things she touched on the screen did not change color (as the instructions said they would, as she had read aloud to us), she said, “That’s the way computers work.”

Check out the full interview conducted by Scott Berkun.

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