New South Wales goes to the polls today and despite incumbent Liberal Premier Mike Baird being the clear favourite there’s a huge design flaw on the online voting platform which could cost the Labor government votes.
It’s all got to do with the user experience of the NSW Electoral Commission’s online iVote system which is clunky to start with.
After registering to use the platform and figuring out how to commence the voting process the ballot paper for the lower house appears on the screen, all candidates can be viewed, you can scroll up and down, fine.
The problem becomes apparent when voting above or below the line. Even when the paper is enlarged on a 24 inch monitor, it doesn’t render to fit so this is what voters see.
However, to the right of that are all the other options (including the Labor party). And while there are big red arrows at the top, that’s not where a user usually focusses their attention, a user experience designer, who wished to not be named, told Business Insider.
“People don’t read webpages like a book, they don’t read left to right, top to bottom, line for line. They scan the page looking for the things they need to get the particular task done,” he said
“In this case, the first thing they see on the page are the tick boxes because that’s what they are looking for.
“When I did it, I didn’t see those arrows until much, much later. The only reason I figured out you could scroll over was because I couldn’t see the Labor party.
“The red arrows are also very nondescript, even having the words ‘scroll to the right’ would be much easier.
“The end result of this is that most people aren’t going to know to scroll to the right, and it’s funnelling people to select the boxes they see on the screen as opposed to fairly displaying all the options to the end user.”
Business Insider also spoke to an Australian user experience designer who was in San Francisco this weekend and had to use the iVote system to cast his vote.
He said when using the platform in Chrome, scrollbars were hidden so he couldn’t see if there were more options.
He said for those who don’t know a lot about politics, “they may just assume what you see is what you get and favour those to the left” – of the screen that is.
Ahead of today’s election, the NSW Electoral Commission said people had been taking advantage of the online voting option in record numbers. As of last Saturday, 92,000 people had registered on the iVote platform and 66,000 had already cast their vote.
Earlier this week security flaws in the iVote system were exposed which meant a hacker could read or change someone’s vote before it was sent to the electoral commission’s servers.
The commission said the problem was fixed last weekend and it expected 200,000 people to use the platform in the lead up to the election.
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