Weekend Discussion: Usability - Mozilla to West Palm Beach

Friday November 10th, 2000

We're all probably keenly aware that there were numerous usability problems (and here) with the balloting in West Palm Beach county during this Presidential election which created voting patterns which according to statisticians are, for all practical purposes, an impossibility.

Not going into questions of legitimacy regarding the vote, my questions to you are these: Can blame be placed when usability issues create incorrect or uncertain results? Is there remedy? Much has been said about usability issues in Mozilla - how does Mozilla's usability play a part in the developer/user relationship? Is there blame to be placed if a lack of usability testing creates an interface that's difficult for users to navigate? Do you think a correlation can be drawn between software UI usability and usability issues for paper interfaces like government forms or ballots? What responsiblity, if any, does the user hold for navigating a UI or form that suffers from serious usability issues?

#20 Two reasons it's bad.

by FrodoB

Sunday November 12th, 2000 11:28 AM

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1) Not everyone has Internet access. And you don't fix anything by requiring every voter to be computer-savvy enough to know how to fill out a form online.

2) Asking for the Social Security number is absolutely wrong on the ballot itself. The whole point of secret balloting as currently implemented is to make sure that no vote can be tracked to the person who made it. Certainly, to prove your identity at a polling place, you need to have ID. But doing it online potentially destroys the anonymity and the Social Security number is so easily obtained by persons of ill repute that it doesn't fix the problem of misidentification.