Every presidential election cycle, people get interested in why ballots are the way they are, so every few years, I give a talk about that. I’ve updated my talk about ballot design for 2020.
There’s a lot of crap going on in the world right now: terrorism, two major wars, and worldwide economic collapse. Let’s not forget the lack of movement on climate change and serious unrest in the Middle East and other places.
People trust governments less than ever — perhaps because of the transparency that ambient technology brings — leading to more regulation of privacy and security, but also to protests. Protests that started in Egypt have rippled around the world.
This wave started with a butterfly. Not the butterfly of chaos theory, but there is a metaphor here that should not be missed: when a butterfly flaps its wings in the Amazon rainforest, there are ripple effects that you might not realize. The butterfly I am talking about is the butterfly ballot used in Palm Beach County, Florida in the US 2000 presidential election.
|Palm Beach County, Florida November 2000 ballot|
Clear Rx from Target
Deborah Adler created a beautifully designed package for Target’s Design For All campaign in 2005. But the package is just a vehicle for clearer, more readable labels with larger type that make taking medicine safer. In addition, Adler created other effective and beautiful, brilliant ways of identifying which drug is in the bottle and who should be taking it, with cleverly labeled the tops for quick recognition, and color coding by family member.
Scot Marvin wrote to tell me that his brilliant wife, Tara Starr, had cleverly doctored a pair of regular, knitted gloves to use with her iPhone, by sewing lovely flowers on the fingertips using conductive thread. The thread produces a working connection between the finger and the iPhone through the glove. Love it.
Today the Brennan Center for Justice at the law school at NYU released a major report about the impact of poor ballot designs and unclear instructions on voters and the importance of usability testing.
Among the highlights is an overview of the Usability Professionals’ Association (UPA) usability testing kit for local election officials (the LEO Usability Testing Kit). Members of the UPA Usability in Civic Life Project are working with Brennan Center to provide direct training for election officials.
The report is titled Better Ballots, and can be found on the Brennan Center site:
The report released today, and 3 articles in USA Today and the New York Times highlight it.
Study: Poor ballot designs still affect U.S. elections
Ballot designs are ‘literacy test for voters’
Influx of Voters Expected to Test New Technology