Home > Uncategorized > Slow voting systems disenfranchise voters—now with numbers!

Slow voting systems disenfranchise voters—now with numbers!

When assessing the usability of voting systems, one of the things we always measure is the time it takes people to vote. Not all studies have measured this, presumably on the assumption that errors are the most important measure. While they probably are, time still matters.

The problem has always been that “time matters” has always been vague. Longer time take to vote means longer lines, and the assumption is that probably deters voters. But we haven’t had numbers on that.

Well, now we might. A recent piece in the Orlando Sentinel discusses research that shows that in Florida, long lines did indeed deter voters. The important bit is that the lines didn’t just deter a few voters, they deterred over two hundred thousand. Yikes.

Now, it’s likely that the problem isn’t entirely the fault of bad UI for the voting systems—registration and lack of machines are likely other contributors—but I’d be surprised if this were not a major factor.

Voting usability researchers: Please measure and report time taken to vote! It matters.

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