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50 Ideas for More Accessible Elections

In our Accessible Voting Challenge, the global OpenIDEO community tackled a new and timely question: How might we design an accessible election experience for everyone?

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ITIF's new report, 50 Ideas for More Accessible Elections, highlights many OpenIDEO community concepts.
In our Accessible Voting Challenge, the global OpenIDEO community tackled a timely question: How might we design an accessible election experience for everyone? With an important election taking place in the United States this Tuesday, November 6, now seemed like a great time to check in with our sponsor, Daniel Castro at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, to hear about what he's been up to and how each of us can bring accessibility awareness to our polling places.

You and your team at ITIF have been busy since our challenge ended! What have you been working on?

As the challenge was winding down, ITIF announced a call for proposals to further pursue research and development for accessibility-related election technology. We received many great applications and this summer we awarded six grants. Two of these were for projects to further develop winning concepts from our challenge: iPad Absentee Voting and EZ Ballot. In addition, a couple of the other projects selected for funding had team members who had participated in our challenge at various stages.
Some of these projects have already made a lot of progress. For example, one of our grantees just released a beta version of its Accessible Voter Information Guide for Android devices. This is a mobile app which lets users enter their address and then creates a personalized accessible eBook with information about what will be on the ballot and where to go to vote or early vote.
Finally, we have announced a second round call for proposals to solicit more ideas for accessible elections. Applications for this second round of funding will close on November 30, 2012, so there is still some time to submit an application.

ITIF recently published a great list of 50 Ideas for More Accessible Elections. Can you tell us more about it?

We wanted to produce a document that would let us share some of the great ideas produced through the OpenIDEO challenge and the design workshops we held earlier this year. So we put together a new report that highlights 50 problems that we see in elections and a potential solution to each of these problems. Our goal was to produce something that election officials and others could look at to be inspired to take action in their own communities. Many of these potential solutions can be traced back to OpenIDEO community contributions, from #Votepools and Community Voter Advocates, to Voting Vans and Disperse the Queue.

How would you suggest OpenIDEO community members make use of this new resource?

One of the things that became apparent in our challenge was that every community is different and has its own unique needs ā€“ not every idea makes sense for every polling place. But as OpenIDEO community members go to the polls, I hope they can reflect on the ideas in the report and look for opportunities to improve the accessibility of their own polling places. And if you see an opportunity for improvement, tell your election officials and share a copy of this guide. Sometimes we just need people to speak up so that problems are recognized and new ideas can take hold.

What's next for ITIF and your accessible elections initiative?

We still have a long way to go on developing some of our projects, but Iā€™m hoping that we will be able to show some photos in our next update, rather than just sketches ā€“ so stay tuned!
Cheers Daniel for sharing your progress with us. We'll be eager to hear what happens next.


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