RE: ballot usability--right-handedness

Subject: RE: ballot usability--right-handedness
From: "Sella Rush" <sellar -at- mail -dot- apptechsys -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 9 Nov 2000 19:40:41 -0800

My first thought on hearing about the ballot problem was to wonder about the
"handedness" of the voters making mistakes. Probably because, as a
left-handed person, I sometimes get into situations that have been designed
for right handed people (butter knives are the only example I can think of
right now, but there are many others!). It's no big deal, but it is
something I notice.

So with the ballot, I immediately pictured a voter with their hand poised
over the holes, which would obscure the one or the other column. This
situation almost certainly contributed to what could be called a confusing
situation.

This is a perfect example of the need for usability. No one looking at the
ballot without actually using it would be likely to notice the potential
problem (including lefties like me, probably). And while the ballot was
printed in the paper (so I heard) I don't believe this would have nullified
in any way the problems that came out with actual usage.

Note: I think it's pointless and destructive to villify the "officials"
etc., who approved the ballot. In most elections, this error would not
effect the outcome, except in a worse case scenario, which we are now in.
Especially since the officials were honestly trying to improve the usability
of the form. The fact that they tried to overcome (using arrows) an
ingrained learned behavior just proves how hard it is to do that. So we can
learn from the mistake and try to be more aware of the potential pitfalls

<<political pov>>

This election is not a round of bowling. When someone trips over their
flipflops and flings the ball into the gutter, they don't get to do it over,
but the stakes are comparatively non-existent. This is about whether
people's votes--their voices--count or don't count.

Note: As you might guess, I'm pro-Gore, but that doesn't make my opinion
biased. In the weeks leading up to the election, held to the belief that
the electoral college result should hold no matter what the popular vote.
Much to my sorrow, I still hold that belief.


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