Policy Study: Accessibility and the Voting Landscape (Spring/Summer 2018)
The electoral system in the United States is structurally complex, intensified by a variety of electoral, political, and technological considerations. Recent local and global events, coupled with an aging national electoral infrastructure, test voter accessibility and security. These developments increase planning and management uncertainty for local electoral jurisdictions. A wide range of observers have noted that many digital systems currently in use were designed and engineered in the 1990s and have surpassed their expected lifespans.
Nationally, there is not a standard method of voting. Beyond the rise of early, absentee, and mail voting, the ways Americans vote on Election Day have changed dramatically over the past generation. Aside from direct digital voting, many voters use paper ballots that are later read by machines, intended to ensure count accuracy as election officials can verify the ballot themselves. In addition, some election officials have taken to designing and implementing their own systems, often because they do not view the current market offerings as tailored to their needs.
Recent research has identified four factors as critical to the success of voting systems in the U.S.: 1) accuracy, 2) usability, 3) accessibility, and 4) security. Developing effective voting processes that address these factors should be the result of innovative collaborations with researchers, election officials, voters, and technology developers.
There is a shortfall in research exploring the relationship between improving voting usability and accessibility, while preventing errors, promoting stakeholder investment, and reducing costs long-term. As more policymakers, election officials and citizens come to understand how behavioral science can help improve voting system security and reliability, so will the need for appropriate and timely practices. In an effort to address some of these gaps, CACP researchers are studying current practices and planning efforts at electoral jurisdictions across the U.S. We expect to get a better sense of what is working, what barriers exist and what potential policy options might be developed.
For further information on this project contact: Paul M.A. Baker, Ph.D., [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Baker, P.M.A., Roy, R., and Moon, N.W. (2005) “Getting Out the Vote: Assessing Technological, Social and Process Barriers to (e)Voting for People with Disabilities”