30 January 2005

the path to armageddon is peppered with bad design.

cris, design teacher extraordinaire brought up an interesting point during our computer lab the other day that Blew my Mind.
speaking of the gore/bush election ballot in florida, and an unexpected and inordinate number of votes which came in for reform party candidate pat buchanan, cris pointed out that buchanan's ballot square was directly above gore's, and the lines separating the candidates did not in fact extend between the two voting circles, making it such that it would be VERY Very easy to mistake the two.
googling it for a close up look of the ballot in dispute unearthed this small caption:

Why Usability Testing Matters: Palm Beach County Ballot Design Raises Questions about Election 2000
08 Nov 2000; Dennis G. Jerz

Image of the Palm Beach County election ballot (first published in the Orlando Sun-Sentinel)

The result of the 2000 U.S. Presidential race was so close that some Democratic Party officials argue that one Florida county's hard-to-use ballot may have unfairly decided the presidency.

Critics argue that some voters in Palm Beach County, Fla. might have accidentally voted for Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan, when they thought they were voting for Al Gore. The Democrats are listed second in the left column; but punching a hole in the second circle actually cast a vote for Buchanan.

The significant factor, the crucial one, is that MOST PEOPLE DO NOT PAY ENOUGH ATTENTION TO DETAIL.

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