Thursday, January 24, 2008

Touch Screen Voting A Hit; Critics Miss Mark On Security, Study Says

Voters like it but make lots of errors ...

"Electronic voting technology, especially touch screen systems, easily pass the tests of voter confidence and satisfaction, but users still make too many mistakes and ask too often for help, says a major new study led by the University of Maryland and conducted with the University of Rochester and the University of Michigan.

The study finds that these usability concerns cannot be addressed by adding paper trails to e-voting systems, and concludes that most critics have focused on the wrong issues.

"Recent history is clear: the election problem most likely to tilt a close race is not security, but the inability of voters to cast their ballots the way they intended," says Paul Herrnson, principal investigator and a University of Maryland political scientist who directs the school's Center for American Politics and Citizenship. "The hazards of poor ballot design didn't end with Florida's hanging, pregnant and dimpled chads in 2000. But tremendous improvement in voters' abilities to cast their votes accurately and without assistance can be accomplished simply by improving the way ballots are laid out on touch screen and paper-based systems."

The five-year study is the most comprehensive of its kind, focusing exclusively on usability issues and relying on data from field tests with more than 1,500 subjects, laboratory tests and expert reviews. The results and recommendations are reported in the new book, Voting Technology: The Not-So-Simple Act of Casting a Ballot, published by the Brookings Press.

Summary of Findings and Recommendations

Voter Errors

The report describes the findings as both reassuring and sobering. While voters expressed confidence in the systems, all proved vulnerable to various types of voter error, such as unintentionally failing to cast a vote in some races, or worse, actually voting for the wrong candidate."    (Continued via Science Daily)    [Usability Resources]

Electronic Voting - Usability, User Interface Design

Electronic Voting

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