The country’s largest jurisdiction creates a more accessible voting experience.
The right to vote is fundamental to American democracy. But when the process isn’t designed to accommodate everyone, non-English speakers, the hearing- or vision-impaired, people who use wheelchairs or other mobility devices, and those who simply aren’t tech-savvy may find themselves disenfranchised. Los Angeles County, with five million voters the country’s largest jurisdiction, wanted to protect citizens’ civic rights by updating its decades-old voting system to be clear, accessible, and easy to understand. We worked with the county to design a device that would allow for universal access, to define a process that felt familiar to voters, and to build a system that could be adapted over time to meet the changing needs of constituents.
Intuitive & Secure
Most LOS ANGELES County voters expressed that the new voting system was “intuitive and secure” after the 2020 primary election
26% of American adults have some type of disability. In the 2020 election, 18% of disabled voters nationally reported difficulty voting, about twice as many as non-disabled voters.
In 2020, national voter turnout among disabled people was 7% lower than among non-disabled people in the same age group.
Under federal law, jurisdictions with large groups of non-English speakers must provide translated voting materials. More than 330 voting jurisdictions across 30 states are required to offer translated voting materials.
Protecting the right to vote means ensuring that all citizens can cast their ballots privately, independently, and easily.
With that principle in mind, Los Angeles County sought out a design strategy firm to create a next-generation, customizable system that would meet the needs of its large and diverse voter population while satisfying myriad voting regulations. The result: an accessible, self-enclosed ballot-marking device with a touchscreen that allows any voter to easily navigate, mark, verify, and submit a paper ballot. We also worked to improve the entire voting experience, including vote-by-mail ballots, interactive sample ballots, and the tally process.
As with any inclusive design, details matter. Voters with vision impairment or reading disabilities can opt for audio and tactile experiences with the push of a few simple buttons. And for voters who prefer to read the ballot in their native language—Spanish, Chinese, Korean, or any one of the 11 others supported by the county—the device lets them select their preference.
After extensive research and testing with constituents, we designed a solution that makes voting easier for anyone. And knowing that the only constant is change, we made the system flexible enough to adapt to emerging needs and technologies, protecting voters’ rights now and in the future. Read the full case study here.
"We’re not just redesigning equipment. We’re redesigning an experience.”
Registrar-Recorder and County Clerk, Los Angeles County
Special thanks to the many partners in this important work, including Digital Foundry, Cambridge Consultants, Smartmatic, Los Angeles Advisory Committee, and Los Angeles Technical Advisory Committee.
We also want to acknowledge and thank the generous individuals and organizations in the accessibility community, and the thousands of Angelenos who contributed to the project.