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Challenges of balancing
usability and security
in future voting systems
Dana Chisnell
@danachis
@ChadButterfly
How are the
votes counted?
How are the
votes counted?
If it’s not usable, it’s
not secure.
Now
Current design
demands much
of voters
Study 1: Websites
Cataloged 147 election websites
Conducted 41 remote moderated
usability tests
What happened?
Voters are
ballot-centric
they’re focused on that act,
not conscious of the overall process
What’s on the ballot?
?
?

?
?
?

?
!
?
If voters don’t know what
is on the ballot
they are more likely to go to third-party
sources
they are less likely to show ...
Website design problems are
well understood
sites are hard to find

find other sources

navigation reflects
department

don’t...
Study 2:
Alternative counting
methods
San Francisco and Oakland,
December 2011
EVN, March 2012
Portland, Maine 2011
Alameda Co. demo ballot
Minneapolis 2011
New York state demo
Voter slate
How is my vote counted?
Ballot design problems are
well understood
split contests across columns

overvoting

there are responses on both
sides of...
How RCV works
n=52
Joe
What does it mean?
Mental models

People make inferences about how
things work based on available
information and context
Mental models
This is what we
teach people
Mental models

Sometimes it really is this simple but not in the US
Mental models

Sometimes it really is this simple but not in the US
Much more like signing for a mortgage
This is the ballot
we test
NIST medium complexity ballot
Mental models

Point system
Weighted
Reversed
Point / weight system
Intent is loaded
Preparing to vote
Knowing what to
expect
Interacting with the
ballot
What’s on the ballot?
What are my options for voting?
absentee
what’s the
deadline to apply?

what do I have to
do to get ...
what’s the
deadline to apply?

where do I vote?

what do I have to
do to get one?

when is it due?

who is in office now?

...
1. Voters develop faulty
mental models
2. Voters don’t understand the
consequences of their actions
3. Voters vote counter to their
intentions
Portland, Maine 2011
straight party voting
+ regular contests
+ RCV
+ multi-candidate
+ retention contests
+ measures
6 different models
We’re pretty sure there’s a problem
Future
Combinations add
complexity.
Complexity compromises
security.
Voters
bear a cognitive burden
that design can relieve.
Poor design and instructions
on ballots make
understanding, marking, and casting
difficult, time-consuming, and
complicated
Poor design and instructions
on ballots make
counting, verifying, and audits
difficult, time-consuming, and
complicated
Raises questions about what is being
secured.
complex ballots = lost votes
complex ballots
+ vote-by-mail
= lost votes
complex ballots
+ multi-language
= lost votes
RCV
+ VBM
+ multi-language
= 1000s of
lost votes
Lack of trust in elections
Lack of trust in officials
Recalls
Scrambling county boards
Security may add to the
cognitive burden
without thoughtful design.
Security = Counted as cast
Security = Cast as intended +
counted as cast
This moment
Voter ed is not the answer.
If it’s not usable, it’s not valid.
If it’s not usable, it’s not countable.
If it’s not usable, it’s not verifiable.
If it’s not usable, it’s not auditable.
If it’s not usable, it’s not secure.
Thank you
Rick Bond

Jared Spool

Cyd Harrell

David Cary

Ethan Newby

Rebecca Sherrill

Callie Wheeler

Frank Castro

Ch...
And...
Andrea Moed

Doug Hanke

Kristen Johansen

Karen McGrane

Boaz Gurdin

Krysta Chauncey

Ashley Pearlman

Karen Bach...
New tools.
Field Guides series

Research
commissioned by
EAC

Research
commissioned by
NIST

Usability and Civic
Life Project

Resear...
Field Guides series

Research
supported by
MacArthur
Foundation

Research
supported by
MacArthur
Foundation

Research
supp...
Field Guides
To Ensuring
Voter Intent

civicdesigning.org
/fieldguides
Coming
soon
Anywhere
ballot
funded by ITIF
(EAC AVTI)
If it’s not usable,
it’s not secure.
Thank you.
Dana Chisnell
dana@usabilityworks.net
civicdesign@usabilityworks.net
civicdesigning.org
@danachis
@ChadButterfly
Usability and security in future voting systems
Usability and security in future voting systems
Usability and security in future voting systems
Usability and security in future voting systems
Usability and security in future voting systems
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Usability and security in future voting systems

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Election Center presentation
August 2013
Savannah, GA

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Transcript of "Usability and security in future voting systems"

  1. 1. Challenges of balancing usability and security in future voting systems Dana Chisnell @danachis @ChadButterfly
  2. 2. How are the votes counted?
  3. 3. How are the votes counted?
  4. 4. If it’s not usable, it’s not secure.
  5. 5. Now Current design demands much of voters
  6. 6. Study 1: Websites
  7. 7. Cataloged 147 election websites Conducted 41 remote moderated usability tests
  8. 8. What happened?
  9. 9. Voters are ballot-centric they’re focused on that act, not conscious of the overall process
  10. 10. What’s on the ballot?
  11. 11. ? ? ?
  12. 12. ? ? ?
  13. 13. ! ?
  14. 14. If voters don’t know what is on the ballot they are more likely to go to third-party sources they are less likely to show up at the right polling place they’re likely to undervote down-ballot they are less likely to turn out
  15. 15. Website design problems are well understood sites are hard to find find other sources navigation reflects department don’t know where to go labels are jargon don’t know how to get to content dates and deadlines are vague don’t know when to act graphics are gratuitous get distracted or lost in the site, lose trust sites are not accessible disenfranchisement
  16. 16. Study 2: Alternative counting methods
  17. 17. San Francisco and Oakland, December 2011 EVN, March 2012
  18. 18. Portland, Maine 2011
  19. 19. Alameda Co. demo ballot
  20. 20. Minneapolis 2011
  21. 21. New York state demo
  22. 22. Voter slate
  23. 23. How is my vote counted?
  24. 24. Ballot design problems are well understood split contests across columns overvoting there are responses on both sides of names overvoting arrows rather than bubbles marking incorrectly formatting is inconsistent or too consistent undervoting instructions are complicated or lacking all kinds of crazy things voters don’t know how to correct their ballots lost votes
  25. 25. How RCV works
  26. 26. n=52 Joe
  27. 27. What does it mean?
  28. 28. Mental models People make inferences about how things work based on available information and context
  29. 29. Mental models This is what we teach people
  30. 30. Mental models Sometimes it really is this simple but not in the US
  31. 31. Mental models Sometimes it really is this simple but not in the US
  32. 32. Much more like signing for a mortgage
  33. 33. This is the ballot we test NIST medium complexity ballot
  34. 34. Mental models Point system Weighted Reversed
  35. 35. Point / weight system
  36. 36. Intent is loaded Preparing to vote Knowing what to expect Interacting with the ballot
  37. 37. What’s on the ballot? What are my options for voting? absentee what’s the deadline to apply? what do I have to do to get one? when is it due? early voting Election Day where do I vote? where do I vote?
  38. 38. what’s the deadline to apply? where do I vote? what do I have to do to get one? when is it due? who is in office now? do I need ID to vote? what’s the deadline for registering? where do I vote?
  39. 39. 1. Voters develop faulty mental models
  40. 40. 2. Voters don’t understand the consequences of their actions
  41. 41. 3. Voters vote counter to their intentions
  42. 42. Portland, Maine 2011
  43. 43. straight party voting + regular contests + RCV + multi-candidate + retention contests + measures 6 different models
  44. 44. We’re pretty sure there’s a problem
  45. 45. Future Combinations add complexity. Complexity compromises security.
  46. 46. Voters bear a cognitive burden that design can relieve.
  47. 47. Poor design and instructions on ballots make understanding, marking, and casting difficult, time-consuming, and complicated
  48. 48. Poor design and instructions on ballots make counting, verifying, and audits difficult, time-consuming, and complicated
  49. 49. Raises questions about what is being secured.
  50. 50. complex ballots = lost votes
  51. 51. complex ballots + vote-by-mail = lost votes
  52. 52. complex ballots + multi-language = lost votes
  53. 53. RCV + VBM + multi-language = 1000s of lost votes
  54. 54. Lack of trust in elections Lack of trust in officials Recalls Scrambling county boards
  55. 55. Security may add to the cognitive burden without thoughtful design.
  56. 56. Security = Counted as cast
  57. 57. Security = Cast as intended + counted as cast
  58. 58. This moment
  59. 59. Voter ed is not the answer.
  60. 60. If it’s not usable, it’s not valid.
  61. 61. If it’s not usable, it’s not countable.
  62. 62. If it’s not usable, it’s not verifiable.
  63. 63. If it’s not usable, it’s not auditable.
  64. 64. If it’s not usable, it’s not secure.
  65. 65. Thank you Rick Bond Jared Spool Cyd Harrell David Cary Ethan Newby Rebecca Sherrill Callie Wheeler Frank Castro Chelsey Glasson Sandy Olson Sara Cambridge Nancy Frishberg Laura Paajanen Yelena Nakhimovsky Beth Lingard Whitney Quesenbery Beth Pickard
  66. 66. And... Andrea Moed Doug Hanke Kristen Johansen Karen McGrane Boaz Gurdin Krysta Chauncey Ashley Pearlman Karen Bachmann Donald A. Cox Rosa Moran Kamaria Campbell Josie Scott Paul Schreiber Rachel Goddard Jenn Downs Samantha LeVan Jacqui Adams Kate Aurigemma Michelle Milla Erin Liman Josh Keyes Alessandra Brophy Josh Bright Andrea Fineman
  67. 67. New tools.
  68. 68. Field Guides series Research commissioned by EAC Research commissioned by NIST Usability and Civic Life Project Research commissioned by NIST
  69. 69. Field Guides series Research supported by MacArthur Foundation Research supported by MacArthur Foundation Research supported by MacArthur Foundation Research commissioned by EAC
  70. 70. Field Guides To Ensuring Voter Intent civicdesigning.org /fieldguides
  71. 71. Coming soon Anywhere ballot funded by ITIF (EAC AVTI)
  72. 72. If it’s not usable, it’s not secure.
  73. 73. Thank you.
  74. 74. Dana Chisnell dana@usabilityworks.net civicdesign@usabilityworks.net civicdesigning.org @danachis @ChadButterfly
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