Center for Civic Design Turns 4 – and They’re Still Giving Us Gifts!

[Image via civicdesign]

This week, the Center for Civic Design celebrated its fourth birthday – four years of invaluable service to the elections field. Here’s a little blurb I wrote for them to mark the occasion:

I’m proud to have been a fan of, and collaborator with, the Center on Civic Design before it even existed … Dana [Chisnell] and Whitney [Quesenbery]’s work on numerous projects – especially the Field Guides and other design-focused work with election officials and poll workers – has been nothing short of transformational. Looking back, I didn’t realize how important election design was; now, I can’t imagine the field of elections without it. That wouldn’t have happened without the Center!

But true to form, even though it’s their birthday they’re still giving us gifts … consider this recent showcase of improved absentee ballot instructions in Minnesota:

In 2008, the election for Senator from Minnesota between Al Franken and Norm Coleman was decided only after a lengthy recount and legal battle that lasted over 8 months. One of the biggest controversies centered on absentee ballots and deciding which of them were even eligible to be counted.

A shockingly high number were disqualified because the envelope with the voter’s identification and signature and witness signature was not completed correctly. In other words, citizens who had gone out of their way to receive and return a ballot did not have their votes counted.

After the election was over, Minnesota decided to revise the instructions for absentee ballots to try to reduce the number of ballots which are disqualified.  Their commitment to continuing to revise the instructions and forms continues to this day. We were proud to be able to help the Secretary of State’s office with this project.

Here’s the first page of those instructions:

You can see the power of proper design here – the use of direct language, useful pictures – which is just part of the legacy of the Center.

I’m also grateful that Dana and Whitney have continued to teach their first-of-its-kind election design course here at the University of Minnesota … all part of teaching another generation of election officials to (design?) fish for years to come.

Happy Birthday to the entire Center for Civic Design – hard to believe it’s been four years AND that it’s only been four years. The field truly is better off with you in it!

Stay tuned …

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