Usability of New Electronic Voting Systems and Traditional Methods: Comparisons Between Sequential and Direct Access Electronic Voting Interfaces, Paper Ballots, Punch Cards, and Lever Machines
Greene, Kristen K.
Byme, Michael D.
Master of Arts
It has been assumed that new Direct-Recording Electronic voting machines (DREs) are superior to the older systems they are replacing, despite a lack of supporting research. The current studies contribute much-needed data on the usability of both older and newer voting systems. Study 1 compared a DRE with a sequential navigation model to paper ballots, punch cards, and lever machines; a DRE with a direct access navigation model was added in Study 2. Changing the navigation style from sequential to direct decreased voter satisfaction and greatly increased undervote errors and intentional abstentions. Premature ballot casting was seen with the direct DRE only. Across both studies, participants were neither faster nor less error-prone with the DREs than the older methods. Nonetheless, they found the sequential DRE significantly more satisfying, an interesting disassociation between preference and performance. Despite voter preferences, the assumption that DREs are superior may be unfounded.