How do we make remote ballot marking systems both secure and accessible?
Remote ballot marking systems allow voters to receive a blank ballot to mark electronically, print, and then cast by returning the printed ballot to the elections office.
Can we make them both accessible and secure, so voters can use and trust them?
This project is investigating the “voter journey” for using a remote ballot marking system that supports election integrity while ensuring that the system is accessible to all voters.
The project goal is to propose general principles and guidelines that can inform the design, development, deployment or selection of a remote ballot marking system–and possibly be useful for other online election systems.
We were pleased to discover that there was little conflict between the goals of accessibility and election integrity. Not only can the requirements for these goals co-exist, but in many cases they support each other.
Final report: Principles for remote ballot marking systems (PDF, updated Feb 10, 2016)
Based on input from a wide range of experts and a review of other literature (including existing standards for voting systems and accessibility), we recommend nine principles for remote ballot marking systems:
The principles are a high level view of the requirements for remote ballot marking systems. For each principle, general guidelines provide further detail about what a remote ballot marking system must do, or the voters must be able to do using it, to meet the principle.
Strong principles and guidelines that provide clear direction for designing and deploying a remote ballot marking system can help election officials choose (or develop) systems that meet the needs of election integrity as well as making it easier for everyone to vote.
Remote ballot marking systems are a rich area for research because:
As part of the work to develop these recommendations, we convened a meeting of stakeholders, developers, and advocates to explore benefits, barriers, and requirements for remote ballot marking systems to:
Some of the big design questions we considered:
Some reading in accessibility, privacy, security, and trust in online or remote voting systems. It is not a comprehensive bibliography, but a list of some relevant research to consider.
Security and risk analysis
Accessibility, usability, and trust
Reports on accessibility of other election systems