This project started with a question about how we might make elections accessible for voters:
What if anyone could vote on any device?
What if, rather than having separate voting systems for people who did and didn’t have disabilities, voters could vote on a device they already had and knew and had customized and personalized.
While the likelihood of voters voting on their own devices may be remote in the current elections environment, it is likely that election jurisdictions will begin to use consumer off the shelf devices as the voter-facing part of voting systems soon. This work focused on prototyping an accessible, responsive, Web standards-compliant front end for ballot marking that would be accessible to voters with low literacy (a previously ignored voter audience) or who had mild cognitive disabilities.
In November 2012 and January 2013, the team conducted rapid iterative testing starting with a paper prototype and then a working digital version. Most of the participants in the testing had reading, cognitive, or other intellectual disabilities. In these two rounds, the ballot design was iterated, changing the layout from horizontal to vertical, testing different instructions, and refining the visual design, until participants succeeded in marking their ballot.
In January 2015, the team added screens that show options for voter preferences to start the audio ballot or other accessibility hardware, select a language, and set text size and contrast. The text settings are used throughout the ballot and can be changed from the settings button.