Usability in Civic Life: Voting and Usability

First Readings on the Usability of Voting Systems

Instructions, signage and the polling place setup are all part of the voting experience. These are the instructions for a punchcard system.This is a large field, and there is a lot of material to read. If you are just learning about voting, it can be a bit overwhelming. To help out, we've assembled a short list of the most critical readings on voting and usability.

  1. Improving the Usability and Accessiblity of Voting Systems
    NIST Special Report 500-256, delivered to the EAC as part of NIST's responsibilities under HAVA

  2. Disenfranchised by Design - Susan King Roth, Information Design Journal.
    The most frequently cited research on the usability of voting systems is Susan Roth's 1998 article. This article includes pictures of voting machines, including one showing machines well over the head of some voters.
  3. RL30773: Voting Technologies in the United States: Overview and Issues for Congress
    A report by Eric A. Fischer, Congressional Research Service. It includes sections on standards and accessibility (March 21, 2001)
  4. The Machinery of Democracy: Voting System Security, Accessibility, Usability, and Cost. A four-part report by the Brennan Center for Justice, is the final product of the first comprehensive, empirical analysis of electronic voting systems in the United States.
  5. Starting from People: Usability and User-Centered Design in Voting Systems
    Whitney Quesenbery's remarks at the NIST Symposium on Building Trust and Confidence in Voting Systems
  6. Developing a User-Centered Voting System, Usability Testing of Voting Systems and Procuring a User-Centered Voting System
    Three FEC "Usability Guides for Voting Systems" issued in December 2003. These small pamphlets are intended to supply local voting officials with information about usability.
  7. New York Times Editorials: Making Every Vote Count
    The NY Times has followed this issue closely, and their editorials are well written, and seem well researched.



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