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Election – probably one of the most emotionally charged words right now in the United States as well as in Austria. But not just the question of who it is going to be is overlapping in both countries. The question of how we are going to vote is a topic of conversation as well. While Austria is still struggling with finding a perfect solution, the famous design company IDEO just pitched its prototype of the future voting machine for upcoming elections in the LA County.

One device for all

With nearly 5 million registered voters, LA County represents the largest voting jurisdiction in the U.S. One big challenge the government is facing is guaranteeing every citizen the right to an accessible and intuitive voting experience. So far this challenge resulted in a very complex voting system, taking into account different solutions for those who are vision and hearing impaired, in wheelchairs, have learning disabilities, are unfamiliar with technology or speak languages other than English – so to say, voters with all kinds of backgrounds.

At first glance this is not an easy challenge to solve. Maybe this was the reason why not just any design company was chosen to work on this problem. The goal of the project: „to create one device for equal access, to define a voting process that feels familiar to voters, balancing both emotional and functional needs, and to build a system that’s adaptable over time“. The design company to deliver the solution is IDEO, the birthplace of human centered design in the heart of Silicon Valley.

IDEO Design director Jörg Student explaining the voting machine of the future.

According to the design director and project leader Matt Adams, over 50 designers in total were involved in the process of analyzing the current situation, emphasizing with the different target groups and developing and designing the final solution. Working closely together with L.A. County staff, the project team now created a voting system that addresses all the complexities and is useful and accessible to all types of voters.

The secret ingredient for success

To be able to create such a holistic solution, the customers’ pains and needs always come first. Emphasizing with the users, understanding their motivations and drivers for action is the master discipline of every IDEO designer. Their special weapon: talking to the customer. Giving the user a voice and listening for the little things that really bother them is the key to success. The feedback of the customers as well as all the success stories IDEO can look back on prove the theory right. Now it’s up to the government to follow on the road of success.



County's website talking about the project:

Documentary about the project:

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