Friday, November 24, 2006

Ballot Design, not DRE issues at play in FL undervote anomalies?

It is hard to believe that such a blatant undervote error could be attributable solely to the DRE itself not properly recording them.  But user interface designs can certainly be abused maliciously, or likely unintentionally, to create these situations.  How ironic is it that the DREs that were touted to Help America Vote are actually helping them to undervote, due to poor design/implementation of the ballots?

Proper UI is just as important as sound underlying technology in ensuring proper understanding and usability of a system.  Recall Why Can't Johnny Encrypt?  A Usability Evaluation of PGP 5.0 and the more recent Why Johnny Still Can't Encrypt:  Evaluating the Usability of Email Encryption Software for how even known secure software can result in insecure  and unintended actions by the user.  The infamous Butterfly ballots were not DRE-based but certainly were flawed UI that caused voting errors in previous elections so this is not a new issue to software or to voting by far.

This is a perfect example though of how using DREs to generate human-and-machine-readable reciepts (voter verifiable) could allow for voters to detect their undervotes before they drop them into the ballot box.  There could even be very blatant warnings to the user on the receipt and on the screen that they didn't vote in X of the races to help prevent unintentional undervotes.  Did these companies do any focus group testing of DREs?

FL-13: More Evidence of Ballot Design Issues - TalkLeft: The Politics Of Crime
...Bev Harris and the Jennings campaign want you to think otherwise. They want to point away from their mistakes. But the real problem was the design...

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