A New Election Day Voter Experience Pt. 2

In my last blog post, I spoke about the need to cut down on visual chaos at the polls and streamline things to make it easier for voters to help make their decisions. We saw mixed success with our attempts to inject signage that would help with that.

The 2023 Signs
To reduce the visual chaos, I decided to take a “team approach” to the design of the sign, and because we were concerned with available resources at each polling station, the leaders of the Nashua Democrats suggested I make more manageable signs for each Ward that one person can hold. Just to recap the challenges I tried to solve with the new experience:

  • Take into account the voter’s emotions (what kind of day they’re having, where their headspace is at, etc).
  • Appear inviting rather than fervid of your support. Many voters see supporters and those involved in political support as “extreme.”
  • Assume the voter has no clue who people are on your totem.
  • Don’t ask for votes the day of the election as it can be seen as an extreme turnoff or a harassment tactic, especially to those who want to maintain their privacy.

Here are the signs we eventually came up with to address many of those issues:

A specific sign for each polling place that would allow people to get down ballot information for their candidates. On the back is a full sample ballot that people can read, take a picture of, and carry with them into the polls.

While we didn’t make the massive triplicates from last year (see last blog post), there are five major improvements on these signs:

  • QR Codes. The QR codes allowed you to scan them so you would get down ballot information off the web and carry that information in with you to the ballot box. All of the QR codes were unique to the Ward. We had over 1,000 scans with 15,000+ voters.
  • Tap To Support. This one didn’t get as much traction, with just under 200 uses. Essentially, you could use your phone just like you would use Apple Pay. You could hold your phone right next to the card we attached on both sides of each totem, and it would allow you to go to the same link the QR code would.
  • Sign Lights. After a certain hour, things get dark, and no one can see your signs. We deliberately installed Neodymium magnets onto the posts and attached lights to them so that they could be seen from a distance.
Sometimes the most obvious innovations are the best.
  • Foot Rests. Each sign came with a base that was heavier (to keep the sign balanced) and you could put your foot through to keep it stable. That way, you weren’t having to hold it upright all day, but still have it in your possession according to campaign rules.
  • Reusability. The signs cost about $200 each to make, but what I really dig about these is that about $90 of the cost is completely reusable for the next election. The totems do not need to be dismantled, only stored. And the QR codes and NFC Tap cards are completely re-programmable for any future links, which means those signs don’t need to be reprinted.

All in all, the signs were a huge hit with voters and officials in political parties. It’s most likely we’ll be seeing more of this in the future. I have also made observations in my travels that will be important to make note of.

Visual Chaos was still a problem and negated some of the sign’s effect with the voters.
Old habits die hard. We were unsuccessful at reducing the amount of visual chaos around the signs because there was this insistence of creating totems of our candidates. Visual chaos was still at play. This impacted the sign’s ability to clearly speak to many of the voters, as the visual chaos drew many of them away from those areas. The QR code was able to negate some of that because you could take a photo of it from 150 feet away. But it negated our ability to show off “TAP TO SUPPORT” because many voters stay clear of the chaos. We still didn’t get to really thank them for voting without instilling this notion of “…but you better have voted for our people.” We missed our chance to build coalition on Election Day for future Election Days. We also missed our chance to do an A/B test to see if these signs and the experience was effective in one of these wards.

New signs competing with lawn signs. We’re still not at a point where we’re designing an Election Day experience for voters.

Innovating into the future
This will not be the last of the sign innovations you’ll see. I have what I believe will be a game changer for the 2024 Election we’ll be implementing (a small pilot for Alicia’s re-election campaign in Ward 7), and because a certain technology has finally caught up, we’ll be able to debut it next November. Stay tuned!

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