Day# 144: The UX of voting Ballots

Day# 144: The UX of voting Ballots

Hi everyone so for today I wanted to discuss voting ballots, I remember seeing mention of the UX of voting ballots in a course I did on UX a while ago. The course was by David Travis where he discusses the actual action of the voting ballot and how it was confusing for individuals to see who the candidate was associated with . See voting the ballot I am referring to below

The type of ballot used in this example is called a butterfly ballot and you see two sides of information, however when associating it the eye can easily make a mistake because of alignment and grouping irregularities. Some key Gestalt principles could have been implemented to avoid mistakes like this which end up confusing the end user. However they were not, in South Africa our voting ballots are fairly simple, however I was shocked after watching the presentation below by Dana Chisnell on how complicated the voting process is in the United States. Check out this article I found initially which lead me to Dana’s presentation on “The epic journey of American Voters.”

Dana has a very interesting talk on the work she has done on understanding the system of government voting. Dana explains how voting means one thing to the officials planning the event, and something else to the actual voters. Furthermore there are many hurdles in the American voting system that make it difficult for the average person to ensure that they can vote come voting day. Dana goes into detail explaining the user journey of a voter in two different scenarios, I like how she includes the perfect world scenario and the worst case scenario, in UX this is crucial to thinking ahead and planning for an array of outcomes from the project you are working on. The fact that the negative experience was more common than the positive one in Dana’s case makes it even more important. Out of interest, as a South African I have to register to vote with my Identification document, however I once just pitched on voting day (having forgotten to do it before hand) and I was still allowed to cast my vote on the day. 

You can find Dana on Medium as well here, where she goes through a written description of the thought process behind understanding the act of voting in the United States. See a brief extract of her article on the type of processes and methods she followed to understand the voters on a deeper level.


“Voters don’t start at the beginning of the chronological process. Voters start with the question, What’s on the ballot?

We think that what they’re really asking is something like, What is important enough about this election for me to invest time and energy? What will happen in this election that will affect me and people I’m close to so much that I should do whatever it takes to vote? They’re asking, Is it worth the effort?

The second part of our study in 2012 gave us a chance to ask 40 voters what questions they had about the upcoming election. Then we observed as they tried to find answers to their questions on their local election department websites. In 2013 through 2015, we interviewed more than 100 first-time and low-propensity voters to understand their information needs. Then, leading up to the 2016 presidential election, we followed 50 voters through their processes for getting informed about that election for about 8 weeks.”

From this you can tell that Dana and her team spent valuable time trying to understand the user experience, building user journeys and documenting data on the process. If you would like to learn more about Dana’s fascinating background, you can check out her profile here here.

For me I love learning about people’s past and how they got into UX, Dana Chisnell thanks for being such an inspiring figure in the UX industry. Something as important as voting ballots really need to be considered more carefully when it comes to UX and I really hope this confusing process is managed and iterated on as we move forward. The UX of voting ballots is a very interesting and controversial topic and one that really needs attention to assist all users who have the right to vote to have their fair opportunity, happy researching until next time!

Oh no wait! I just found some other resources by Dana, check out her blog here, ok that’s all for today 😉

Bye for now

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