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Mark anywhere

Make it easy for voters to mark their ballot anywhere, then bring them to the polling place to cast them. Why not make it easy to get a copy of the ballot and mark it anywhere (in any method), then come to the polling place to cast the ballot

Photo of Whitney Quesenbery

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This concept also brings together threads from several different inspirations and concepts.

A lot of current ideas about elections are based on getting your ballot at the polling place and marking it there. What if we changed that one thing? Voters would be able to get their ballot on paper or in electronic form, in advance, and mark it in a way that is accessible and comfortable for them. This is no different than the way it is often possible to get a copy of a sample ballot to prepare, but in this concept, that would be a ballot that can be used to mark your choices, similar to the way tax forms are available in many places.

Voting happens in three steps:

1. Receive and mark your ballot anywhere

Voters can receive a ballot to mark in several ways. They do not need any identification, except their address (so that they get the correct ballot). The ways to receive a ballot include

  • Paper ballots available by mail, or at public places like libraries, post office, or banks, or by requesting it by phone.
  • Electronic ballots that can be marked on a computer or mobile device, received by email, from the web, etc.
  • Voters could also come to the polling place, and mark their ballot there.


2. Sign in at the polling place

At the polling place, voters sign in as usual. They are checked against the voter registration database, which is marked so that they can only vote once.


3. Scan, verify, and cast the ballot

The voters already have their ballot ready to scan. The scanners can read a hand-marked ballot, or a QR code printed by the electronic device.

The scanner displays a summary list of the candidates or other ballot choices for the voter to confirm. This display is in large print, or audio.

  • If the voter is satisfied that the choices are accurate, a list of the verified choices is printed, the ballot counted, and the vote cast.
  • If the voter does not agree with the review, he or she can cancel, and get another ballot to try again.


In most cases, scanning will be fast, making queues shorter.

How will this concept improve election accessibility for everyone?

Each voter can mark the ballot in the way they prefer. If they choose to use a computer, they can use their own system, already set up for their needs. Voters can also come to the polling place to mark their ballot.

This is all done before getting in line to cast their ballots. The lines will be faster, because only one step must be done after signing in.

All of the ballots look the same once cast - just a record of the choices, rather than all of the options - no matter how they were marked. references are likely to change over time. Because this assumes many ways to mark a ballot, it if flexible.

It also means that the systems used to mark ballots at the polling place can be simpler - no different than any personal computer or tablet. They can be equipped with several assistive technology options like easy to read keyboards, trackballs, and audio output. This makes them easier to set up, and less expensive.

How well does this concept adapt to the changing needs of different voter communities?

Preferences are likely to change over time. Because this assumes many ways to mark a ballot, it if flexible.

It also means that the systems used to mark ballots at the polling place can be simpler - no different than any personal computer or tablet. They can be equipped with several assistive technology options like easy to read keyboards, trackballs, and audio output. This makes them easier to set up, and less expensive.

It also fits with Paul's Disperse the Queue concept and the IDEO Palo Alto Rethink the Queue concept by separating marking the ballot from casting it

What kinds of resources – whether time, money, people, partnerships, technology or otherwise – will be needed to get this concept off the ground?

This small change is a pretty big shift in how ballots are handled and polling places are organized. It will need to be refined in partnership with election officials.

My Virtual Team

This concept was developed at an accessible election design workshop run by the ITIF Accessible Voting Technology Initiative and CATEA - http://elections.itif.org/projects/design-workshops/ - along with many inspirations on OpenIDEO.
It builds on concepts and comments by Paul Reader, Ashley and the Palo Alto team, and several others.
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Photo of Edmund

I'm a big fan of automation but I'm just skeptical because there are too may vote rigging incidents. It will be great if the voter could assess a online tallying system where voters can check if the votes cast are similar to the ones they have voted for.

This would definitely help reduce fraud and the authorities would think twice about rigging votes. However, I doubt they would fork out the additional money to put in these systems as I have the impression that the incumbent will always do whatever they can to stay in power. Why help their competitors get in.


Edmund Ng
http://www.CeoConnectz.com

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