Using mobile devices, especially smart phones and tablets/pads, has been discussed a lot during the ideation phase. The main benefit that can be gained using these devices is to combine their different ways of input and output and suggesting different methods of voting for people with particular needs.
For instance, when a visually impaired voter needs to use his hearing sense to be guided, and is able to use his/her hands to touch control the app, another might be able to see the device but not use his/her hands. The possibilities of various disabilities voters have, require a flexible system.
When we think of all the sensors and the number of possibilities to combine different ways of input and output, it gives an opportunity to address each individual case. To make use of this technology, we need a clear and simple app interface: Vapp.
Vapp is originally designed to be operated by the poll clerks in order to easily suggest the method of voting for particular cases. (such as Mikkel who just broke his both arms)
Throughout the concepting phase, the feedbacks and personas showed a demand for allowing conscious voters and/or their assistants use Vapp to set their voting method manually. (such as Tasha who has been blind since birth)
In the end of both cases, voters use Vapp by themselves, to go through the voting process suggested for their needs.
Vapp is used by different audiences:
A. Poll clerks– to fill in voter profile at the voting poll
B. Voters and/or assistants - to set voting preferences before elections
C. Voters– to vote self sufficiently
There are variations in the user interface for each audience, including the phases they go through. For each of them, the app requires a ‘National ID number login’ or a ‘National ID card snapshot’ to start.
A. Helping a poll clerk at the voting poll
A poll clerk cannot always guess which method of voting, what kind of input and output, is convenient for which voter. In order to predict this, Vapp lets the poll clerk fill in a voter profile according to the voter’s sensory, physical and cognitive disabilities.
The combination of sensory and physical disabilities a voter might have can be very unpredicted. Luckily, the obstacles in different parts of the body are visible to the poll clerk. To enable logging in this kind of information, a body interface is used to click and select the impaired organs and senses.
There are alsoinvisible disabilities, like fatigue, reading and other cognitive disabilities which can be kind of observed, and further understood by going through a checklist of asking a couple of ‘yes/no’ questions to the voter or to his assistant. To find these out, Vapp guides the poll clerk step by step, enabling him to select ‘yes/no’ options as the voter answers.
After creating the voter profile with this interface, Vapp suggests the most convenient voting method, a combination of input and output, addressing the voter’s needs.
To be used in express scenarios, a quick menu can be created for commonly used voter profiles, such as ‘wheelchair user’, ‘visually impaired’, ‘age above 60’, etc.
A manual voting methodcan also enable the poll clerk log in a specific input and output type for voters who show a clear need of a certain device. (for instance if Angela demands on using a keyboard)
B. Addressing a conscious voter and/or assistant
Conscious voters and/or their assistants who have been dealing with their obstacles for years know exactly what they need. Allowing the app to run on a website beforehand addresses these people to login profile information to the system and save time at the voting polls. Even if a voter is not able to login his/her information alone, a caretaker or a family member can assist the person in need. The system will save the preferred voting method, which will allow a voter vote alone when the election time comes.
When using Vapp, the voter and/or the assistant can select among ways of input and output listed in the website. They can combine the two according to their needs, watch a preview video of how the voter will be guided to vote, and confirm to save.
When the voter comes to the voting poll, the poll clerk can just scan his National ID to access the voting method that is already created. The voter also knows how he will be guided through the voting process; a big amount of time and energy is saved.
C. Letting everyone vote individually
After creating a the voter profile, either with the help of the poll clerks or the assistants beforehand, the most convenient voting process is set for each particular case. Every voter has the right to vote self sufficiently, regardless of needing to share own candidate information.
How will this concept improve election accessibility for everyone?
All a voter needs is a national ID
Every citizen already has a National ID Card. The poll clerk can check a voter’s national ID card and mark the person as ‘VOTED’ on the digital system when letting him use Vapp. Using a smart device enables new fast ID verification methods:
Creating a hardware device to scan and verify National ID Cards has two negative requirements: 1. Every citizen’s National ID Card has to be electronic, 2. These devices have to be manufactured. By developing a scanning software, any National ID Card can be verified with a snapshot. Instead of using to the option of typing a voters National ID name/number manually, a poll clerk might prefer take a photo of the card. The technology is already used by several apps on smart phones for reading business cards and saving contact information. By integrating an effective and fast ID verification, Vapp becomes useful for non-disabled citizens as well.
Use mobile devices, have mobile poll clerks!
Using light-weight mobile devices and flexible voting processes enable poll clerks to be mobile as well. Voters who are not able to move out of the house, such as people in hospitals, people who have physical disabilities or people who need to stay home with their sick kid can benefit from a service where the poll clerks visit these places carrying a tablet/ipad. In that case, the biggest challenge is to maintain the privacy at all times. A portable voting booth is design in progress to be embedded into the system ensuring privacy in mobile scenarios.
(collaboration opportunity with ‘Voting Vans’ concept: http://bit.ly/xT83hO)
How well does this concept adapt to the changing needs of different voter communities?
The concept is based on a personalized voting process, suggested automatically or set manually according to the needs of different voters. The challenge is to make this process not confusing or time consuming. Vapp solves this problem with an easy interface.
Please check the above video or the attached pdf showing seven scenarios where different voters are guided through different voting processes. These are mostly suggested by Vapp according to the voter profile filled in by the poll clerk. Some characters are taken from the personas created by OpenIDEO: http://bit.ly/vote_personas
How about voters who are not disabled?
As mentioned above, Vapp can include a fast and effective National ID verification. In that case, whether disabled or not, any voter would first approach to a poll clerk with his ID. After the poll clerk uses Vapp to verify the person, then he would either continue filling in voter profile or editing different voting settings for special needs, or he would immediately set ‘standard voting’ and let the non disabled voter vote. The new standard digitalized voting and counting system would improve the elections for everyone.
(Check the ‘When the solutions for disabled becomes the new standard’ inspiration: http://bit.ly/z8FbEd)
What kinds of resources – whether time, money, people, partnerships, technology or otherwise – will be needed to get this concept off the ground?
The following teams go through a design process to develop Vapp
Creative team: interaction designers, anthropologists, software developers
Experts team: organizers of elections, doctors & nurses
Users team: poll clerks, representatives of voter personas, assistants of voters
Analogous team: people working in places requiring public interaction: banks, call centers
Following the design process, the implementation starts in a pilot areato test Vapp and to make any changes before executing in the coming elections. After the success, the poll clerks are trained by using Vapp. Partnerships with institutions using mobile devices can be made in order to borrow their resources. Think of all the laptops, tablets and pads that can be touched and played with at digital device stores and technology fairs. If these resources are used for elections, then it is a great social responsibility project and a sales technique for these brands. If a mother sees that her autistic son can vote with an iPad, then she would be motivated to buy it to communicate with him.
(( I just stumbled upon a news from New York Times that Oregon was the first state to allow disabled people vote with iPads!
'One woman, who has impaired vision, was able to enlarge the print on her ballot so that she could see the names of candidates. A man with arthritis who could not hold a pen was able to touch the screen with his finger and mark his ballot.'
'The goal was to make voting accessible and convenient for voters with disabilities, and the iPad does exactly that,” said Kate Brown, Oregon’s secretary of state. ))
The concept apparently suggests a high tech solution to enable personal assistance on voting. However, the app can be developed in a more primitive version to run on any computer or ATM with a keyboard, a mouse, a microphone and speakers. For instance, instead of 'tapping the screen 3 times,' the voter can be asked to 'click 3 times with the mouse.' In that case, the mobility of the process is restricted, but the cost is lowered down. Local banks, schools and other governmental offices can let their computers be used during the elections.
(Collaboration opportunity with ‘Votin via ATM Network ’: http://bit.ly/FOVPPz)
The capital is mostly spent on the initial phase of research and development of the app. The biggest benefit of developing a Voting App is that it can always be updated with new features (such as a new language, updates on candidates, etc) in a very cost efficient way.
Opportunities for further improvement
Vapp can grow to be used by voters throughout the elections. It can involve information on the candidates, polling places, asking for a personal assistant beforehand, etc. Keeping the same interface, Vapp can be used in any internet browser or smart phone. In case a voter is looking for the polling place, Vapp can direct him to the nearest location using GPS technology.
(Collaboration opportunity with ‘Accessibility Map’: http://bit.ly/zd0MS6)
(Collaboration opportunity with ‘Disperse the Queue ’: http://bit.ly/y5fpTw)
Challenges of Vapp:
Requiring people to feel comfortable with electronic devices
Assuming that all the communities of the country is developed in technology
Requiring a big investment in research in the initial phases of development
Benefits of Vapp:
Helping people different roles and duties: poll clerks, voters, and/or their assistants
Creating a convenient voting process differing for each person with particular needs
Supporting the right to vote self sufficiently, not needing to share own candidate information
Making full use of existing and growing technology in our lives
Being a long term IT investment, allowing to be updated with new features in a cost effective way
Concept Presentation Video: http://vimeo.com/38933647
Scenarios Video: http://vimeo.com/38933647
Prezi Presentation Link: http://prezi.com/qvrfabopndfa/vapp/