Rock the Ballot
This app concept was presented in 2016 to a panel of General Assembly alumni.
UX Designer and Project Manager
Framework development, user flows, user testing, UX/UI design, system documentation
Problem & opportunity
Here's a fairly regular situation that happens while voting: As you're voting, you start to see categories and names on the ballot that you don't recognize and are now faced with making a decision on who to vote for solely based on their name and party info available on the ballot. It's an uncomfortable, guilt-ridden situation to be in. Voters want to be informed about candidates on their ballot before going to the polls but their interest is often outweighed by the effort required to fill their knowledge gap. Rock the Ballot is an app concept encouraging voters to learn about candidates that will appear on their ballot and save their top picks.
To get a deeper look at how political education and voting fits in people's lives, our team conducted 7 interviews with Millennials (age 18–31) who voted at least once in the past year. 71% of users interviewed were not familiar with all the candidates on their ballot during the 2016 general election. When faced with an unfamiliar name, the instinct was to vote for a candidate perceived to share their values like voting for women or diverse candidates. Overall, down-ballot candidates are generally not top-of-mind or an after thought in comparison to big-name candidates and positions up for election.
Synthesis of user interviews
Research led us to identify two distinct user groups: uninformed and informed voters. It was clear that the uninformed voter has the most to gain from a solution that can help prepare people to vote, particularly as we discovered the voting process can trigger a rollercoaster of emotions for this audience. They may be feeling content while waiting in line, then getting excited as they open the ballot to vote and immediately drop to feeling anxious and guilty once they see unrecognizable names and are faced with making an impulse voting decision.
Uninformed voter persona
So, what resources are available to learn about candidates? We conducted a feature analysis to see what's standard and unique across political education apps and websites. We found most resources were focused on either just the election logistics or in-depth political content—nothing in between. There was a clear opportunity to make political education fun and interactive (e.g., via gaming, matchmaking) to help bring some simplicity and clarity to what is often difficult to read content.
Feature analysis: X-axis is features Y-axis is resources
We wanted the design and interaction with candidate information to reflect voters’ mental models of how physical ballots are laid out. To make it easy to skim through candidate options, we added a "Find your candidate match" feature that would curate a list of candidates that match users' interests and values. Data about candidates would be as unbiased as possible, pulling info from what candidates have voted on and what is listed on their platforms. All voters have to do is agree/disagree with political issues. The platform is personalized to where voters are registered and will regularly keep them updated on election dates and polling locations, using Google Civic Information API.