Civic Design

Friday, November 10, 2006

Wide margins are good

The month before the mid-term election was busy for all of us who have an interest in how the election would go. Below Josie Scott, one of the directors of the Usability Professional's Association (UPA) Voting and Usability Project kindly provided observations about voting in mid-Michigan.

Among Josie's more memorable moments...

Without the tiny sticker, all is lost

Our voter registration list is produced by the state. When a voter produces an application to vote, precinct inspectors are now required to mark the list and issue a tiny sticker to the hapless voter, who then must produce it for the poll book inspector. The inspector will, in turn, affix the sticker to the poll book and issue the ballot. It took 40 minutes between application and ballot, so I managed to accidently affix the sticker to my application to vote.
  • In mom's precinct, the poll workers figured out a workaround, and painstakingly cut tiny pieces of waxed paper upon which they fixed the little sticker. I couldn't take a photo of that, but I admired the ingenuity. Nonetheless, one voter lost her little piece of wax paper while waiting, and it was never recovered.

Precinct traffic didn't flow efficiently

My precinct might have seemed convoluted to me until I observed the flow of my mother's precinct. They actually routed voters to the second station instead of the first station. Then they tried to manage the problem by sending new voters to the first station, but in the meantime, perhaps 20 voters waited sans stickers in the poll book line.

It took voters a long time to vote

We had some tough questions this year, and the process of marking the ballot took a while for some. One voter managed to mismark her ballot, which the scanner promptly rejected. "This was just practice" she remarked out loud as she obtained another ballot.

No one voted on the accessible stations, which would be unfortunate if the machine makes the mark and a single disabled voter uses the system. We should encourage clerks to use the system for any voter that wishes to vote (especially when lines are long), so that no voter is indentifiable by the type of mark on the ballot.

It took me 45 minutes to vote at 7:45 a.m. I was voter number 78.

My mother took 65 minutes to vote. She was voter number 1033.

All photos (c) Josephine Scott, 2006


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