Usability in Civic Life: Voting and Usability

Research on Voting Systems and Ballot Design

Usability testing voting systems | Ballot design research | Work at NIST | University research centers


Disenfranchised by Design - Susan King Roth, Information Design Journal. This 1998 article is one of the most frequently cited papers on the usability of voting systems. It is also one of the few that pre-dates the 2000 US presidential election.


Usability testing voting systems

The NIST Voter Performance Protocol (VPP) was developed as part of the work on the US Voluntary Voting Systems Guidelines (VVSG). If adopted by the EAC in the next version of the guidelines, any voting system will have to meet conformance benchmarks for human performance using the system.

Earlier white papers

Ballot design research


Work at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

Working for the Election Assistance Commission, NIST and the TGDC have done research into the design and usability of ballots and voting systems


Research Centers

Several university research centers are conducting ongoing research into voting systems. The projects listed here include work on usability and design.


ACCURATE (A Center for Correct, Usable, Reliable, Auditable, and Transparent Elections)

Research funded by the NSF includes work on the usability of voting systems, ballots and audit processes. (Project site)

CAPC (The Center for American Politics and Citizenship) Research on Voting Technology and Ballot Design

A project at the University of Maryland conducts research into elections, including usability issues with the HCIL (Project site)

Electronic Voting Systems - University of Maryland HCIL

Ben Bederson's work on the usability of voting systems, and work on "Zoomable User Interfaces" for electronic ballots (Project site)



Auburn University Human-Centered Computing Lab

The Lab has created Prime III, an electronic voting system that offers a secure, open-source, multimodal electronic voting system that delivers the necessary system security, integrity and user satisfaction safeguards in a user friendly interface that accommodates all people regardless of ability. Prime III's implements a Universal Design. (Project site)


The Caltech-MIT Voting Technology Project
As part of the Caltech-MIT Voting Project, Ted Selker has worked on the design of voting systems, and methodologies for usability evaluation. (Project site)


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