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Electronic voting eliminates hanging chads but introduces new usability challenges

Archived Abstract of Former PSC Researcher

Conrad, Frederick G., B.B. Bederson, B. Lewis, E. Peytcheva, M.W. Traugott, M.J. Hanmer, P.S. Herrnson, and R.G. Niemi. 2009. "Electronic voting eliminates hanging chads but introduces new usability challenges." International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 67(1): 111-124.

The arrival of electronic voting has generated considerable controversy, mostly about its vulnerability to fraud. By comparison, virtually no attention has been given to its usability. i.e., voters' ability to vote its they intend, which was central to the controversy surrounding the 2000 US presidential election. Yet it is hard to imagine a domain of human-computer interaction where usability has more impact on how democracy works. This article reports a laboratory investigation of the usability of six electronic voting systems chosen to represent the features of systems in current use and potentially in future use. The primary question was whether e-voting systems arc sufficiently hard to use that voting accuracy and satisfaction are compromised. We observed that voters often seemed quite lost taking far more than the required number of actions to cast individual votes, especially when they ultimately voted inaccurately. Their satisfaction went down as their effort went tip. And accuracy with some systems wits disturbingly low. While many of these problems are easy to fix, manufacturers will need to adopt usability engineering practices that have vastly improved user interfaces throughout the software industry. (C) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

DOI:10.1016/j.ijhcs.2008.09.010 (Full Text)

Country of focus: United States of America.

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