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UPA Joins in Urging the Carter-Baker Commission on Federal Election Reform  to Consider Design and Usability as Critical Factors in Elections

May 16, 2005

Carter-Baker Commission on Federal Election Reform
c/o AU Center for Democracy and Election Management
3201 New Mexico Avenue, NW Suite 265
Washington, DC 20016-8026

The Honorable Jimmy Carter and James A. Baker III:

I am writing on behalf of Design for Democracy, a non-profit organization affiliated with AIGA,
the professional association for design, and the Usability Professionals’ Association (UPA). This strategic program works with election officials at the state and federal levels to increase participation
in the civic experience. Professionals from design and social research collaborate to enable
compelling, efficient, and trust-building experiences between the government and the governed.

On a not-for-profit basis, Design for Democracy (D4D) offers consultation services to federal, state, and local government agencies by developing models and prototypes to address civic design problems. It also offers consulting services to groups that work with government agencies in order to institutionalize design standards.

Through its network of professional designers and researchers, D4D offers solutions that are feasible and affordable. Projects include collaborative work with election officials in Illinois, Oregon and Utah (and ongoing discussions in other states) on the redesign of election materials and environments to improve access and minimize voter and election worker errors.

Design for Democracy (D4D) helps elections officials locate professionals who will test and implement designs, both through developing expert teams and helping to identify those professionals who can work on a contractual basis with government agencies. The organization has also completed prototyping and models for many aspects of the voting experience. Election design models have been exhibited at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C. and will be exhibited at the Pompidou Center in Paris this summer.

We would like to encourage design and usability representation in Commission investigations because many of the problems identified in past elections could be alleviated or prevented by improving the design and usability of voting ballots and systems, instructional materials and environments. Both EAC (and the NIST scientists) recognize the importance of counsel from both of these professional disciplines in their ongoing work on election design issues. Both the goals of HAVA in ensuring effective access to elections for all, and creating trust and confidence in election results are enhanced when election materials are well designed.

We request a meeting with staff and Commissioners to discuss how the work of Design for Democracy benefits voters and election officials as the United States strives to become a beacon for democracy in the world. Dori Tunstall, Managing Director of Design for Democracy can be contacted at 312-282-2893 or designfordemocracy@aiga.org. Many thanks for your attention to this important issue.


Dori Tunstall, Managing Director, Design for Democracy
Ric Grefe, Executive Director, Design for Democracy/AIGA
Susan K. Roth, Design for Democracy
Whitney Quesenbery, President, Usability Professionals Association

Cc: Dr. Robert Pastor, Executive Director, Commission on Federal Election Reform

The Usability Professionals' Association is an international, non-profit, professional association with more than 2000 members in the US and 35 other countries. Members are specialists in evaluating and designing products that are easy to learn and use. The organization provides its members with a wide variety of professional services. Through outreach the UPA:

  • Shares information about the skills and approach of usability professionals in meeting needs for usable products.
  • Acts as an advocate for usability in consumer, corporate and governmental software, products and web sites.
  • Educates the general public about the usability.

For more information, contact:

The Usability Professionals' Association
140 N. Bloomingdale Rd.
Bloomingdale, IL 60108-1017
email: office@upassoc.org
web: http://www.usabilityprofessionals.org

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