Voting by Design

Voting by Design
Sylvia Harris
Design Institute
  • Graphic Design
  • Service Design

The controversial presidential election contest between George W. Bush and Al Gore in 2000 resulted in a deadlocked electoral college race, which came down to contested voting results in the State of Florida and was eventually decided by a U.S. Supreme Court decision. The intense media coverage lasting more than a month exposed a variety of voting problems, such as confusing designs like the butterfly ballot and images of inspectors deciphering the intentions of voters through the dangling chads of punchcard ballots. Many citizens, voting rights activists, and designers were appalled at the state of voting in America. Commissioned by the Design Institute at the University of Minnesota, New York-based information designer and public interest design advocate Sylvia Harris (1953–2011) decided to analyze not just the ballot design but the entire voting experience—from voter registration to casting ballots and exit polling—which is captured in a poster.