Arizona Ballot Redesign 

Type Case Study
Role User Experience Designer
Languages Paper?

As my capstone project at ASU, I performed a case study of the design of voting material used in Arizona elections. The end goal was a friendlier, more inclusive layout that encourage voting.

Conducted literature review, user survey, in-person interviews, and wrote a long, boring paper about it.

Literature Review

Current Recommendations

While this case study was focused on the design of paper ballots, I wanted to make a case for why this was relevant voting format. Research into electronic and phone methods of voting revealed security concerns and lack of accessibility, meaning paper was still a more inclusive approach.

A thorough review of guidelines for national elections from government sources and accessibility advocates led to several suggestions for format of markable area, typography, colors, etc. that are considered useful in line with usability research in more general areas.

Samples of electoral ballot formats.
CrowdPublish.tv redesigned homepage.

User Research

Voter Survey

With an idea of a what a good ballot looks like, I wanted to find out whether Arizona's ballots were at least in line with these general guidelines. I ran a survey of voting-age residents of Arizona and asked them about their most recent experince with voting.

Results were fairly good with usability, with 42% of the respondents rating the ease-of-use at 4 out of 5. However, "clearer instructions" was the most wished-for inclusion for the next time they voted. 

Bar chart of survey results to question:

Interview

Printing & Production

To learn about what physical or financial restrictions that may affect layout of the ballot, I secured at interview at Runbeck Election Services, Inc., the current contractor which provides printing services for electoral ballots in Maricopa County.

The paper size and optical scanner marking (seen as black bars along the sides of the paper) are particular to a certain tabulation scanner, meaning this part of the ballot couldn't be changed without a significant financial investment. This gave me a guideline to work within for the new layout, but anything between the edges of the paper could be read thanks to the alignment of the markers.

Ballot printer at Runbeck Elections Services.
Ballot printer at Runbeck Elections Services.

Conclusion

Ballot Redesign

Because the satisfaction of voters and the adherence to accessibility guidelines weren't perfect, I believed Arizona's ballots still could benefit from a redesign, so I continued with the project.

In particular, I focused on the user flow through the questions on the paper, with a column layout and colored text in red and green as an analogue to traffic lights and a flow common to anyone who has read a newspaper or magazine. Columns also allow the alignment of the marking ovals, so the eye only has to move one direction to view the choices.

Redesign of Arizona electoral ballot.