Election design course, online, at Election Academy!

Of course you want all of your election materials to be beautifully designed, easy to read, and give voters the information they need so every vote counts.

You think it would be great if voters to got the right answer, on their own, from their ballot, form or web page without having to call your busy phone lines.

If you want to bring out your inner election designer, or just learn how identify good and bad election design, there’s a new opportunity designed just for you:

An election design course, online. 

As part of the first-in-the-nation Certificate in Election Administration at the University of Minnesota, we are really proud to be teaching the first-in-the-nation course on election design. The program is the brainchild of Doug Chapin, aiming at current and future election administrators and anyone interested in civic engagement.

The course is entirely online, and built on the idea that you learn best by doing.  Through small, weekly assignments you practice new skills with real election materials.

Dana and Whitney will be there with you all the way, with group discussions and collaborative reviews because we’ve seen that the best ideas happen when there’s a place to brainstorm and people to do it with. Usability testing will help you learn from your own voters (and you will see how to make it part of all of your work)

You can — in fact, are encouraged to — work on real projects in your office, so you can improve instructions, forms, websites, or other election materials while you earn two credits.

In case you’re wondering if we’ve lost our minds: We know. This is a big election year. We are with you. That’s why we’ve built “project weeks”  into the schedule, so you can fit the work around the election crazy and a generally busy schedule. Of course, we plan to pay attention to what’s happening out there in election-land, bringing those lessons into the online classroom. You’ll come away with more tools and skills to help you understand better where process problems are coming from, and how to remedy them through design.

Hoping we’ll see you in class!

Here’s the fine print:

  • The official name is PA 5975
  • The second presentation of the class starts on January 17, 2016
  • Anyone can take the course – you don’t have to be admitted to the program
  • You’ll average 6 hours a week of course work, including interacting with the instructors and other students
  • It all happens online, but there are a few web meetings and lots of collaboration
  • You’ll earn 2 credits
  • Information about enrolling in the program and registration for just this course is on the program page or contact Doug Chapin or Lea Chittenden for all the details.

And here’s what the course covers

  • Using design to close civic literacy gaps
  • The voter journey and basic election design principles
  • Plain language: writing so voters understand
  • Writing instructions
  • Usability testing
  • Accessibility: making things work for everyone
  • Designing election department websites
  • Voter guides
  • Election forms
  • Ballots and polling place materials
  • Voter information and communicating with voters

And you finish with a course project to pull all your new skills together


University of Minnesota Certificate Program in Election Administration curriculum, cost, and other information


This post was updated 10/10/2017 for the Spring 2017 semester.

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