Enhancement of Accessible Mobile Voting Systems

The accessibility of the voting process is a critical issue facing our society. Existing systems, including those designed with accommodating technologies and accessibility features, are not fully accessible to people with disabilities. In addition to issues with voting systems, polling places are often difficult to get to for people with disabilities, and limitations on the number of accessible voting systems available at a location and the considerable amount of time required to complete a vote using accommodating technologies create serious difficulties for people with disabilities attempting to vote (including bottlenecks on the number that can vote).

The rise of internet-enabled mobile technologies, however, provides an opportunity to increase the accessibility of voting for people with disabilities. First, it removes the need to travel to a particular location, which is often challenging for individuals with disabilities (particularly difficult in rural areas with distant polling places and lacking public transportation). Second, it allows the voter to use their own technology. This provides for the use of customized and preferred accessibility solutions that are already familiar to each voter. By creating accessible mobile voting systems standards, more individuals with disabilities will be able to successfully vote in elections, and will face less difficulties and discomforts in doing so. Additionally, such an application would have applications to overseas voting and any other circumstance in which the voter cannot easily get to a polling location.

This project revised and improved on the accessible mobile voting user interface and interaction design that was developed by Swierenga and Pierce as part of a prior NIST-funded project (Design of Accessible Mobile Voting System Standards). The system is designed to be used by all voters (with and without disabilities) to fill out and submit ballots on personal devices inside or outside the polling the place.

Funded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Technical Report

  • Pierce, G. L., Jackson, J. E., & Swierenga, S. J. (2014). Enhanced User Interface and Interaction Design Standards for Accessible Mobile Voting Systems. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University, Usability/Accessibility Research and Consulting.