Voting is a failure of the last mile
November 07th, 2006 - 30 Comments
I’m surprised. With all the news we’ve been getting lately about getting out and voting, I haven’t seen one piece of information about where I’m supposed to vote beyond the one piece of mail I got about 6 weeks ago. Who knows how many people lost that sample ballot and went online to find the info?
Unfortunately, finding information about voting registration and voting locations is awful. Maybe it’s just me–I have Tivo so I skip through commercials, and I don’t watch NBC Nightly News–but I can’t help thinking that lots of young people have similar habits of going online. In fact, the “maybe it’s just me” phrase is a red flag indicating a classic design problem. It’s not voters’ fault–it’s the designers’ fault (in this case, election officials) for not giving us the information we need beyond “EVERYBODY GO VOTE!!!”
A cursory search online doesn’t give any information, either. Now, I dug around and found the sample ballot, but I wonder how significant that initial “I can’t find it online” reaction is for voter turnout. With all the handwringing about low voter turnout, I wonder how much we could bump up results if we had an easy, step-by-step online guide to registering and finding your polling place that we actually knew about.
As Malcolm Gladwell noted in The Tipping Point when describing Howard Levanthal’s famed social psychology experiment:
Sure enough, when Levanthal redid the experiment, one small change was sufficient to tip the vaccination rate up to 28 percent. It was simply including a map of the campus, with the university health building circled and the times that shots were available clearly listed.
Voting locations based off a mailed document from 6 weeks ago? Talk about a failure of the last mile.
PS–The best voting site I found was http://canivote.org, which I heard about on NPR
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