Voting Systems For:
- Average Citizens
- The Aging Population
- People with Disabilities
Since 1998, the Trace Center has worked to develop solutions for making electronic voting systems more accessible and usable. The techniques and strategies developed by Trace can be applied to a wide range of electronic voting systems, from handheld tablets to larger tabletop units and kiosks.
Extended Usability Approach
The Trace Center proposes a new approach to accessibility standards for electronic voting systems called "Extended Usability". Mainstream direct recording electronic (DRE) voting systems can be made accessible for people with most disabilities by adding a few simple modifications (mostly software). These modifications provide accessibility for people with most disabilities - particularly those experienced by older individuals. To provide access for those people who have no vision at all or who require special switches, a special input module could be plugged in to the mainstream voting units. For more information about this concept, see Accessible Voting Handout (PDF).
Trace Prototype Voting System
As a tool for research and development, the Trace Center developed a series of working prototypes, the latest prototype is shown in the photo on this page. Our work on voting accessibility is a specific application of the EZ Access® interface strategies developed at the Trace Center. Although the Trace prototype has not been made commercially available, it has been demonstrated extensively and has influenced both voting standards and voting interface design.
Key Links to Other Work on Voting Accessibility
The following are links to some key web sites focusing on voting standards and accessibility:
- U.S. Election Assistance Commission - A federal agency serving as a national clearinghouse and resource for the comparison of information and review of procedures with respect to the administration of Federal elections.
- National Institute of Standards & Technology Voting Project - NIST chairs the Technical Guidelines Development Committee of the Election Assistance Commission and conducts other research activities related to voting systems.
- AAPD Disability Vote Project - The American Association of People with Disabilities is a leader in the disability community related to voting accessibility.
Trace’s Publications and Presentations on Voting Accessibility
The following are links to selected papers and presentations from Trace's work on voting accessibility:
- Vanderheiden, G. (2005). Comments to Election Assistance Commission on the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG).
- Vanderheiden, G.C., (2004, December). Using extended and enhanced usability (EEU) to provide access to mainstream electronic voting machines. Information Technology and Disabilities, Vol. X, No. 2.
- Vanderheiden, G., (2004, September). Accommodating Diversity and Privacy in the Polling Process. Oral testimony presented at Public Data Gathering Hearing of the Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC) of the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD.
Funding for this work has been provided by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), U.S. Department of Education, under grants H133E030012 and H133E980008.