Concept: Personal Voting Guidance System

A personalized experience that promotes effective voter participation

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Personal Voting Guidance System

Presentation poster for the Personal Voting Guidance System concept

About this concept

The text that follows describes the concept presentation poster

The goal of this Personal Voting Guidance System is to promote effective voter participation. There are many things that might motivate someone to think about an election, sometimes long before the ballots are available. The Personal Voting Guidance System stitches all of this information together from the first contact through the availability of ballots to the actual election.

Election information is available in stages:

  • When the election is announced, we know the contests
  • The process of the election and the campaigns
  • At a certain point, the ballot is published with the final list of candidates
  • The election takes place over several days or on a single day
Voters also go through a process
  • Being motivated to consider the election at all
  • Learn about the contests and candidates
  • Learn about the process for voting
  • Go to vote
The Personal Voting Guidance System can be used at any time to store research and choices for an election.
  • It is fully accessible, allowing voters to use any accessible device
  • It can use any media to relay information
  • A voter can create a “virtual persona” to store information in the cloud about their preferences for display, location or media.

Universal design principles

The Personal Voting Guidance System meets the universal design principles, applying them to participating in elections.

Principle 1: Equitable Use
The system is easy to access and helps the voters get engaged in voting. It offers these opportunities equally to every voter. If voters don’t have access to the Internet, the system offers other ways to convey information (such as by mail, telephone, SMS).

Principle 2: Flexibility in Use
Voters have the flexibility to choose when and where to access the information.

Principle 3: Simple and Intuitive Use
Voters can choose the media that they are familiar with to access the information. Because the voters will be familiar with the devices they choose, it will be simple and intuitive for them to use the system and access the informaiton.

Principle 4: Perceptible Information
The system offers audio and visual versions of information. And also allows the voters to access the information via different devices (that also means the voters are able to use their own assistive technology), so all information will be perceptible for all the voters.

Principle 5: Tolerance for Error
The system offers opportunities for voters to access the election information in advance. It reduces the possibility for mistakes when voting. Voters can review and revise their ballot choices before actually casting the ballot.

Principle 6: Low Physical Effort
The system pushes (updates) the information about the voting process automatically. Voters can keep track of updates about the election that they want. Voters can access the information from their own location via. their preferred devices. It’s low physical effort for them.

Principle 7: Size and Space for Approach and Use
Voters have their own accessibility preference setups in the system. They can choose the font size, contrast, and also the place to access the information.

The system  allows voters to keep their own voting records and accessible preferences in a private way, confidentially. It offers more convenience and assurance to the voters when they try to vote.

Additional materials for this concept

Meet voters whenever they are motivated

3 frame cartoon (description below)

A cartoon showing how an issue can be the first step in motivating someone to vote.

Many things can motivate a voter to participate. One idea behind the Personal Voting Guidance System is that a voter can start the process at any time. In the cartoon:

  • Frame 1: Professor Cane reads about a new issue to vote on school funds
  • Frame 2: He makes up his mind that he likes this issue and says “I’m gonna vote.” He enters this on his computer, which responds “Vote entered”
  • Frame 3: He reads a message “Thanks for voting. Here are the following step”

At this point, the voter is not marking an official ballot, but is saving his choices. The system stores all of these choices, allowing him to build his information base and even change his mind, until the official ballot is ready.

Election information is cumulative

Voters can collect both official information, from the election departments or campaigns, and unofficial information from the press, media or advocacy groups. The Personal Voting Guidance System is a place to accumulate all of this information to make better choices.

This meets the needs of the voter personas in different ways.

  • George, who has trouble with his memory, likes being able to pull everything together into one place. As he makes decisions, he prints a copy to help him remember what he has done. He might take these notes with him to the polling place.
  • Angela takes more time to go through the materials, without feeling rushed. She is able to make decisions about how to cast her ballot in a way that doesn’t tire her out
  • Minjun likes the option for video because he understands spoken English better than written language. It also helps with his vision issues.
  • Charlie likes that he can go over the material as much as he likes. Sometimes he gets a little stuck in the research phase, so the reminders from the election department help him remember to actually vote.
  • Tasha needs a format that works with her screen reader. She likes that she can get the sample ballot as soon as it is available, so she can can check the format and get help if she needs it.

The election department can push information to those who request it

In the months and days leading to an election, the election department can use the Personal Voting Guidance System to push information about process and deadlines to the voters. This might include:

  • Reminders to update registration information
  • Information about different ways to vote – absentee, in person, early voting
  • Lists of candidates and ballot questions, with links to official information about them.
  • Sample ballots, when they are available
  • Reminders about polling places and times

Voters can register and cast their ballot at the same time

The Personal Voting Guidance System can help voters to register. This concept reverses the usual process of first registering and then voting. In this concept, a person can take a step toward voting when they are motivated by the issues, gets the appropriate ballot, and then register when they decide to actually vote. For example, they might send in their marked ballot and their voter registration form at the same time, like Election Day registration.

Voters can register their interest in an issue

Voters can add a preference for more information about specific issues. Campaigns and other third parties can use this invitation to send links and information.


Voters can compare their positions to candidates’ positions on issues

Image showing voter matching their positions to candidates

My Issues Profile allows a voter to identify their position on key issues and see how candidates' positions match their own

Shows a voter matching their statement to candidate statements

Link the voter with candidates by asking proposition questions based on certain issues. This lets the voter find the candidate whose statement best matches their own.




This concept was created at the Accessible Elections Design Workshop in February 2012