Counter to intent: Voters' mental models of alternative counting methods

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Here I talk about some preliminary findings from exploratory research about whether voters encounter problems using ballots that include contests that are counted in non-traditional ways.

Here I talk about some preliminary findings from exploratory research about whether voters encounter problems using ballots that include contests that are counted in non-traditional ways.

More in: Design , News & Politics
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  • 1. Counter to intentVoters’ mental models ofalternative counting methodsDana Chisnell@danachis@ChadButterfly
  • 2. Not.
  • 3. Ranked Choice VotingInstant Run-off VotingFusion or Cumulative Voting
  • 4. How are thevotes counted?
  • 5. Ballot design problems arewell understood
  • 6. Ballot design problems arewell understoodsplit contests across columns overvotingthere are responses on both overvotingsides of namesarrows rather than bubbles marking incorrectlyformatting is inconsistent or undervotingtoo consistentinstructions are complicated all kinds of crazy thingsor lackingvoters don’t know how to lost votescorrect their ballots
  • 7. Ranked ChoiceVotingadds a twist
  • 8. San Francisco and Oakland,December 2011EVN, March 2012
  • 9. Portland, Maine 2011
  • 10. Alameda Co. demo ballot
  • 11. Minneapolis 2011
  • 12. New York state demo
  • 13. Voter slate
  • 14. How RCV works
  • 15. n=52
  • 16. n=52
  • 17. n=52 Joe
  • 18. What we found
  • 19. Mental models People make inferences about how things work based on available information and context
  • 20. Mental models
  • 21. Mental models This is what we teach people
  • 22. Mental models
  • 23. Mental modelsSometimes it really is this simple -but not in the US
  • 24. Mental modelsSometimes it really is this simple -but not in the US
  • 25. Much more like signing for a mortgage
  • 26. This is the ballotwe testNIST medium complexity ballot
  • 27. Mental models
  • 28. Mental models Point system
  • 29. Mental models Point system Weighted
  • 30. Mental models Point system Weighted Reversed
  • 31. Alameda Co. demo ballot
  • 32. Alameda Co. demo ballot
  • 33. Point / weight system
  • 34. Point / weight system
  • 35. Point / weight system
  • 36. 1. Voters develop faulty mental models
  • 37. 2. Voters don’t understand the consequences of their actions
  • 38. 3. Voters vote counter to their intentions
  • 39. Portland, Maine 2011
  • 40. Top 2 primary
  • 41. Top 2 primary+ regular contests
  • 42. Top 2 primary+ regular contests + RCV
  • 43. Top 2 primary+ regular contests + RCV+ multi-candidate
  • 44. Top 2 primary + regular contests + RCV + multi-candidate+ retention contests
  • 45. Top 2 primary + regular contests + RCV + multi-candidate+ retention contests + measures
  • 46. Top 2 primary + regular contests + RCV + multi-candidate+ retention contests + measures6 different models
  • 47. We’re pretty sure there’s a problem
  • 48. Implications andoutcomes
  • 49. Poor design and instructionson ballots makeunderstanding, marking, and castingdifficult, time-consuming, andcomplicated
  • 50. Poor design and instructionson ballots makecounting, verifying, and auditsdifficult, time-consuming, andcomplicated
  • 51. Raises questions about what is beingsecured.
  • 52. RCV = lost votes
  • 53. RCV + VBM = lost votes
  • 54. RCV + multi-language = lost votes
  • 55. RCV
  • 56. RCV+ VBM
  • 57. RCV + VBM+ multi-language
  • 58. RCV + VBM+ multi-language = thousands of lost votes
  • 59. Lack of trust in electionsLack of trust in officialsRecallsScrambling county boards
  • 60. Security = Counted as cast
  • 61. Security = Cast as intended + counted as cast
  • 62. This moment
  • 63. Voter ed is not the answer.
  • 64. Next steps
  • 65. Next steps Develop & test versions of on-ballot instructions
  • 66. Next steps Develop & test versions of on-ballot instructions Develop & test versions of pre-voting instructions
  • 67. Next steps Develop & test versions of on-ballot instructions Develop & test versions of pre-voting instructions Study combinations of designs with instructions
  • 68. Next steps Develop & test versions of on-ballot instructions Develop & test versions of pre-voting instructions Study combinations of designs with instructions Study combinations of voting modes on the same ballot
  • 69. If it’s not usable, it’s not valid.
  • 70. If it’s not usable, it’s not countable.
  • 71. If it’s not usable, it’s not verifiable.
  • 72. If it’s not usable, it’s not auditable.
  • 73. If it’s not usable, it’s not secure.
  • 74. Thank youRick Bond Jared SpoolCyd Harrell David CaryEthan Newby Rebecca SherrillCallie Wheeler Frank CastroChelsey Glasson Sandy OlsonSara Cambridge Nancy FrishbergLaura Paajanen Yelena NakhimovskyBeth Lingard Whitney QuesenberyBeth Pickard
  • 75. New tools.
  • 76. Field Guides seriesResearch Research SOP and Usability Researchcommissioned by commissioned by and Civic Life commissioned byEAC NIST Project NIST
  • 77. Coming soon
  • 78. Coming soonEffective electiondepartmentweb sites Research partially funded by Kickstarter & MacArthur
  • 79. Coming soonEffective election Delivering usefuldepartment voter educationweb sites Research partially Research partially funded by funded by Kickstarter & Kickstarter & MacArthur MacArthur
  • 80. Coming soonEffective election Delivering useful Effective designdepartment voter education for vote-by-mailweb sites Research partially Research partially Research to be funded by funded by funded by the Kickstarter & Kickstarter & MacArthur MacArthur MacArthur Foundation
  • 81. Coming soonEffective election Delivering useful Effective design Designing multi-department voter education for vote-by-mail language ballotsweb sites Research partially Research partially Research to be Research to be funded by funded by funded by the funded by the Kickstarter & Kickstarter & MacArthur MacArthur MacArthur MacArthur Foundation Foundation
  • 82. Field Guides To EnsuringVoter Intentcivicdesigning.org /fieldguides
  • 83. Dana Chisnelldana@usabilityworks.netcivicdesign@usabilityworks.netcivicdesigning.org@danachis@ChadButterfly