Comparative Voting Performance of Reading Disabled Voters

Jonathan A. Goler
Edwin J. Selker
Lorin F. Wilde
Interacting with Computers

Although legislation now protects the rights of voters with special needs, no one has previously evaluated how different electronic voting systems affect the performance of the reading disabled community. Results of this initial study, evaluating three current systems, proved surprising and inform how future voting interfaces may potentially be improved for the population at large. Subjects with undiagnosed reading disabilities exhibited the highest error rate, however, those with previously diagnosed reading disabilities significantly outperformed the control group when using full-faced systems. By contrast, the previously diagnosed group performed worst when using standard-sized Direct Record Electronic (DRE) systems. We attribute this observable difference to the coping techniques that those with known disabilities have learned to get through everyday life. These allowed them to interact effectively with the full-faced system, which orients users but does not guide them through the process. Such strategies proved useless on DREs, which guide users through the process but provide no means for them to orient themselves. We conjecture that a hybrid design, incorporating the advantages of both systems, will benefit all users.