OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Rethinking Election Queues

Today IDEO Palo Alto hosted a brainstorm for our Voting Challenge. We were particularly curious about how polling places could be redesigned to make the process of waiting in line and casting a ballot less confusing and rushed, and more private.

Photo of DeletedUser

Written by DeletedUser

Today  BrianYusuke, Alisa,  Nathan and  Ashley got together for a Voting Challenge brainstorm. We used the  Brainstorm in a Box toolkit and the  Concepting Personas to focus our conversation on specific voter needs and capabilities. For this concept we focused on a voter like Angela, who often feels rushed when she votes.

How might we bring structure to the polling place and the voting experience so that someone like Angela feels like she has the time she needs to vote, and is able do so privately and on her own?

We had a few different ideas for changing up the structure of the polling place:

Brian suggested that we create two lines, very similar to the various lines you see when you go through airport security. Could we make it "ok" for anyone who needs a little extra time to select the "want more time" line? Of course we'd need to make sure that there were enough polling booths at each group so that the folks who needed more time didn't end up waiting too long to cast their ballot.

What if we could have signposts at different points throughout the line that explained different parts of the voting process, as Nathan has outlined here? The signs could explain the materials you need to check in, the different languages a voter can select for his or her ballot, or even how to signal to a poll worker that you need help, without getting out of line?

Focusing more specifically on privacy, Yusuke also suggested a new format for the polling place (top right) where all of the voting booths were behind a special curtain. Voters would queue up behind the curtain, and when you got to the front of the line, you'd get to choose the type of accessible voting options you needed. This would enable any voter to request certain voting access with a greater degree of privacy and security than going straight up to a poll worker and asking for help in front of everyone.

What kinds of resources – whether time, money, people, partnerships, technology or otherwise – will be needed to get this concept off the ground?

These are just early suggestions for how to improve the polling place experience so that it helps voting feel less rushed and intimidating, and more private. A big issue to consider is not just around recommendations for redesigning the layout and queue process of polling places, but also about implementation locally and around the country. What kind of incentives, training, manuals or other resources might we need to create to help election officials and poll workers actually implement these layout changes?


Join the conversation:

Photo of DeletedUser


Seems like if we're looking to design a more accessible voting experience, we should just skip polling places (and the related queues) all together. Isn't the most convenient and accessible polling place each person's individual home?

Photo of DeletedUser


I suppose it depends on the person's home (if they have one).

And everyone is different. Some people love going to shop at malls, others would rather shop from home online.

View all comments