Ideas for Better Voting Accessibility Sought

Online competition asks participants for creative ideas on how to make voting more accessible, particularly for those with disabilities.

by / February 6, 2012

Have ideas to make voting in elections more accessible to everyone? An online competition is asking participants to submit their ideas.

Online idea-gathering platform OpenIDEO launched the contest last month. During the next few weeks, the contest will give the public a chance to submit ideas on how voting in elections can be made easier for citizens with disabilities or other limitations, which according to the contest’s home page could account for between 10 and 20 percent of potential voters nationwide.

So far, more than 200 ideas have been submitted. One idea, suggested by contest participant Whitney Quesenbery, said that information showing voting waiting times be displayed online.

“Lots of transit systems have signs at the stations telling riders when the next train will arrive,” Quesenbery stated in her submission. “And they have apps and websites that publish this information. What information would be great to have online about elections.”

The contest is sponsored by a nonpartisan think tank called the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), and is funded through a grant from the bipartisan U.S. Election Assistance Commission, which was created as part of the Help America Vote Act of 2002.

In March top ideas will be evaluated, followed by an announcement of the winning ideas. The winning ideas will be featured on the ITIF Accessible Voting Technology Initiative website.

Several states already have begun addressing voting accessibility with technology. Oregon has already started efforts to make the voting process easier by piloting a project in five counties to allow voters with disabilities fill out their ballot on an iPad.