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A 14 week project for transdisciplinary SMPL x DSGN Studio at ArtCenter College of Design. Fall 2020

The Team:

Makenna Kesterson - Industrial Design

Anthony Palileo - Interaction Design

The Brief:

The technologically advanced nation of Populus with 40M citizens seeks to update its voting process for future elections to increase voter turnout with a secure and trustworthy system.

The Challenge: 

Redesign the voting experience to create a better democracy.

How it Works

The System

Selection is a multi-faceted solution for securing trust in the future of participation in elections, and features two primary aspects:

  • RemoteVote: the function for filling and submitting ballots from a mobile device

  • VoteBox: the in-person voting booth component


Together, they create three possible avenues of engagement for citizens with the voting process. They may fill and submit their ballots entirely through their mobile device, fill their ballot remote and submit in-person, or and submit their ballot in-person at the polls.

The system includes a comprehensive interactive voter information guide, as well as a ballot tracking and review component. The entire process, whether remote, in-person, or the combination of both, are fully digital and properly safeguarded and encrypted using blockchain technology to increase accuracy, transparency, and confidence in the system.

Mockups of screens from the mobile app platform of the Selection project


VoteBox is the in person experience that allows all users the ability to have active participation in democracy. Parametric audio allows all users to have auditory feedback and information. The welcoming interior is balanced with a secure exterior, communicating the high security that blockchain technology provides.

The voting interface of the tablet inside the Selection voting booth

VoteBox Console + UI

The in person physical interface will feature an e-ink display which is easier on the eyes and battery. The UI is designed to have clear distinction between three areas: the ballot summary, the ballot detail and the voter guide. A manual control dial is offered for greater accessibility.

Digital mockup of the digital interface popping out of the tablet screen of the Selection voting booth tablet


No other voting system offers the follow up aspect of the receipt. Users have a tangible and informative link to their votes, also helping users keep record of their vote. Users will also be able to review their ballots after submission.

A close up of the Selection voting booth tablet's control dial and the receipt printer with receipt sticking out

Results and Review

A fully digital system allows for automated tally of votes, and upon closing of the polls, results may be instantly announced. Users will be able to see the election results within the app. In addition, they have the ability to track their ballot and review it at any time after casting, a feature that existing systems are incapable of.

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Voter Anonymity

Tackling this subject in the digital format was a unique challenge. We created a multi-factor authentication system with a hand-off that would first confirm citizens were registered to vote, and then provide them with a random unique identifier to stand in as their voting credentials, with no identifying information attached to it.

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Ensuring Certainty

Particular controls require added commitment to minimize user error. Requiring citizens to hold a button rather than tap help to capture their sentiments more accurately. Casting votes and final submission of ballots fall into this category of controls.

An animated image showing transitions of the digital interface with a button slowly highlighting to indicate where a user holds down instead of taps

Designing for Accessibility and Inclusion

We set out to ensure that every citizen of Populus was given an equal opportunity to participate in the election process. This meant designing both the physical and digital interfaces with adjustability and redundancy for both input and feedback.

Overhead image of a woman in a wheelchair inside the Selection voting booth with a screen shot of the digital interface imposed on the floor beneath her

Building Trust in Blockchain

The system’s use of blockchain technology is the cornerstone of it’s security - but how do we communicate this to citizens? Following the journey of the blockchain encrypted vote and how blockchain works is a vital communication tool for users.

The Process

Finding Opportunities

Initial research looked to the existing methods of voting, as well as the digital solutions currently being developed, and from these findings we strategized areas where our concept could be leveraged to best serve the user.


Understanding Users

Our interviewees and survey participants included voters of varying experience in elections as well as levels of trust in current systems. We looked into their methods of information gathering and decision making, and gauged their feelings toward a fully digital, remote voting experience.

An overview shot of post-it notes arranged in groupings based on user interview and survey responses

Understanding Their Experiences

Questions in the one on one interview process helped further examine all of the steps and processes they went through before, during, and after election day. The 2020 General Election happened to occur during the semester, so we took this as an opportunity to evaluate the voting experiences first hand. My teammate went through the process of voting by mail, and I went into the polls to cast my ballot.


Defining the User Personas

Our primary persona represents the largest constituent of citizens and are active, highly tech savvy, and very likely to engage via the mobile experience. Our secondary personas represent the opposite ends of the voting spectrum, from the young and inexperienced to the highly experienced and hyper involved.


Creating the User Journey

Developing a user journey provided a framework from which we would derive requirements for the system. This would inform the features and functions within the system. Through the course of the project, our user journey's scope grew beyond the single act of voting to encompass the touchpoints before and after.

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Ideation for the interfaces required clarity of navigation and user controls, while the physical ideation process focused on creating form factors that were visually engaging and functional.

Hand sketches of ideas for the voting booth
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Taking feedback from our users, instructors, and class critiques, we began the process of prototyping our concepts, with increasing fidelity and clarity through each round of iteration.

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Defining the Design Language

Later in the project, we were prompted to challenge the conventions of users' (and our own) concepts of what colors best represented the election process. The obvious blue and red were simply too centric, and we explored numerous possibilities before deciding on colors that embodied trust and confidence.

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Leveraging Emerging Technology

Envisioning the future of voting required us to look into what technologies would be available to enhance the users' experience. In-display optical readers provided an opportunity to center the experience on the screen, minimizing the number of interactions and reducing manufacturing costs.


Future Considerations

We established a product roadmap that spans two election cycles and includes analytics which will be evaluated after the second cycle for properly addressing turnout needs. These results will be made publicly available (not actual votes; only remote vs. in-person submissions) to inform and involve the public in decisions regarding potential transition to full remote voting.

Image of the product roadmap showing the various steps throughout two election cycles of launching the solution

To view the complete final presentation slide deck, please click here: Selection Final Presentation

Makenna Kesterson

A brilliant industrial designer interested in making lives better through simple yet impactful design. Find her work at

SMPL x DSGN Studio

As a full-service, multi-disciplinary mock design agency, we work closely with our clients to define, design & develop transformative product & user experiences across a variety of industries. See more at

The Problem

Citizens who are able to communicate, conduct financial transactions, and get medical advice through their mobile devices are frustrated that they cannot engage in elections in the same way.


RemoteVote is the function of the mobile experience that provides citizens with the ability to cast their votes remotely from their mobile device. To give citizens piece of mind, the submission process is clearly and thoroughly landmarked so they can track their ballot live as it is submitted to the national blockchain ledger.