Voting On The Go: Election Day User ExperienceWritten by TechieBirch on November 18th, 2016
Read our analysis of the user experience of the U.S election voting process, how far we've come, and how much further we can go.
With the advancements in technology, it seems like nothing is impossible nowadays, even voting on the go via mobile devices. Wouldn’t it be convenient if you could vote online wherever and whenever you want?
Back in 2014, research by the Rice University revealed that voters using smartphones made fewer errors in a mock election. According to Rice professor of Psychology Michael Byrne the current voting system must be replaced to offer better user experience to voters.
“Current electronic voting systems have numerous issues — from usability and accessibility to security to the fact that many of them are nearing the end of their life cycle — and there are few good certified alternatives currently on the market,” Byrne stated.
Phil Kortum, assistant professor of psychology at Rice, suggests the use of mobile devices to help streamline the process.
“Nobody likes to wait in line at the polling place, and so mobile voting offers the opportunity to cast votes when and where it is convenient for the voter,” Kortum said. “Creating voting systems that retain the convenience of mobile phones while still ensuring the security and anonymity we enjoy with current voting technologies will be the biggest design challenge.”
Security is the main reason why consumer technologies such as smartphones and tablets are still not widely accepted as a professional tool. Experts suggest that changes in security systems tend to be slow which affects why some businesses are apprehensive about the idea of solely running and managing their business digitally.
“Society has to implement any new security technology as a group, which implies agreement and coordination and — in some instances — a lengthy bureaucratic procurement process. Meanwhile, an attacker can just use the new technology,” Bruce Scheneier wrote in his Wired.com post.
As a result, mobile and tech companies have started introducing new forms of security measures. So far, the biometric sensors are doing well. Fingerprint scanners are now a common feature among low to high-end smartphones. Though they are expected to be replaced by the more reliable and secure iris sensors.
However, the fingerprint scanner is still commonly used with brands such as Apple continuing to rely on it for data and device security. According to O2, the Touch ID feature remains an important aspect of the iPhone, along with the security improvements on the iOS 10. Likewise, other Android brands, such as Samsung and LG, are also incorporating said technology on their latest handsets.
If fingerprint scanners and other biometric sensors are used to register votes, users would already be familiar with how to use them and this would help secure their data and vote.
There have been a few attempts to improve the voting process and overall experience in the United States. Previously, the only way to vote was by showing up at a voting station and casting a vote using a pencil and paper. Now, with the help of technology, two main types of electronic voting systems have been introduced and widely used to improve the voting experience: Internet Voting and e-Voting.
1. Internet voting is only allowed in selected states that meet certain technical qualifications. For example, the state of Arizona has implemented this type of voting process to assist the disabled and ill. Each registered voter needs to sign up to be able to receive a personal ID number via a snail mail. The voters are then given the option to cast their vote from the comfort of their own home.
Absentee voters are also able to cast their votes ahead of time using the same platform, so long as they have requested to do so, ahead of time.
However, internet voting has its own set of drawbacks. Not everyone has access to the Internet. Although people are able to access public Wi-Fi connections almost anywhere, these aren’t particularly reliable or safe to use when voting as hackers can easily trace your data by only using the public internet portal.
2. Additionally, e-Voting was introduced to further improve the user experience of voters who are at voting stations. Instead of a pen and paper, there are electronic voting machines available to ensure a smoother and seamless experience.
However, some users (particularly the elderly) still have trouble using the e-Voting machines, and unfortunately, there isn’t any system in place that provides the needed assistance for users.
As technology evolves, we are sure there will be boundless new processes that will try to improve the online voting process in the coming years. The likelihood is they will offer a more personalized, secure, and easier voting experience for everyone so that they can make their vote count.