RI School Design Students Take on Elections


[Screenshot image from TurnTo10]

I’ve talked a lot both about the importance of getting students involved in election administration and the need to expand the kinds of skills that those students are bringing to the field. Today’s story hits both out of the park.

No doubt inspired in part by a class taught by my friend and colleague Dana Chisnell, students at the Rhode Island School of Design have applied design techniques to signs and ballots and are now taking those to the State Board of Elections. TurnTo10’s Bill Rappleye has more:

The typical signage at a Rhode Island voting place is not coordinated and sometimes not easy to understand.

A solution from design students at the Rhode Island School of Design is to make the signs at least the same color.

“You can follow the additional bright blue signs inside,” said Evan Brooks, a RISD senior.

Brooks is one of a team of students who showed what they think are improved signs and ballots to the Board of Elections on Tuesday.

“It just seemed incredibly confusing and intimidating. There’s no structure to it. You have to take everything out and sort through it, and just by designing it in a neater way saves work for both the Board of Elections and the volunteer poll workers who have to set everything up,” Brooks said.

The students took a similar approach to ballots, making them more usable by voters:

The students took a shot at improving the ballots too, and found little changes can make a noticeable difference in usability.

“We changed the alignment to make sure people can read it better, and we changed having the English and the Spanish text clearly distinguishable,” said Mariam Quraishi, a RISD junior.

Best of all, the students recognize how seemingly disparate topics like art design and elections actually fit together:

“It’s a connection relationship that you wouldn’t normally expect but when you think about it, graphic design is communication through form and that’s what these people are trying to do,” said Kelsey Lim, a RISD senior.

[To see the full video, click here]

Congratulations to the students for their work, which I hope inspires design students in other states to embark on similar projects AND intrigues election officials enough to learn a little more about design!

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