The Challenge


How might we design an accessible election experience for everyone? read the brief


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?
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.


Join the conversation and post a comment.

Fei Xin

April 24, 2014, 05:58AM
This is an excellent chanllenge. I agree with your point "I also wish all electoral results are opened to people." Elections should be obey " fair, open, notarize " principle.

mengyuan chen

February 23, 2014, 17:26PM
Nice challenge!! I like the idea of this challenge. And I also wish all electoral results are opened to people.

Edmund Ng

November 15, 2013, 03:30AM
It's important that all electoral results are openly declared. The governments worldwide has been selling the fact that voting is secret. However, when it's really secret, many governments used it as a way to rig elections via voting machines or swopping of votes.

I'm just waiting for the day when all voters will be videoed as they announce the candidate of their choice. That way, it leaves a perfect audit trail and there's simply no way the votes could be manipulated. The voters could also confirmed if their votes have been tampered with. Most voters who vote in voting machines don't even realized that their votes could be manipulated with a touch of a button.

Edmund Ng

Cinder McDonald

December 15, 2012, 20:57PM
I'm disabled and my adult daughter is disabled too. We believe in voting, we even work the polls. We have many friends who are disabled. I am sorry to tell you that you missed the boat on this challenge. Voter accessibility isn't about better technology, that is the least of it. It's about people, it's about changing attitudes that the general public holds about us and what we are capable of. Most of us feel we are forgotten when it comes to election time. All the technology and transportation is completely useless when we can't find reliable information about the people running for office. We need ways to be involved in the elections process. We need to directly see how our vote matters. We need to see that the candidates care about the issues we care about -frankly, very few of us are seeing THAT. Everything starts with talking to us, finding ways for us to get involved and get invested...

Daniel Castro

February 15, 2013, 04:10AM
Cinder, agree with much of what you said and if you look at the ideas that came out of this process, I think you'll see that they do address the types of issues you mention. For example, in our "50 Ideas for More Accessible Elections" report we included ideas like "Hire people with disabilities as poll workers" and "Provide easy-to-read election information." In in our most recently funded grantees are doing projects such as training poll workers and providing more accessible voter guides.
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