While most of us thought that ergonomics was only a partisan issue up for grabs as Clinton exited the white house in 2000, ergonomics actually played a much bigger role in deciding (or confusing) who would next be President.
In November of 2000, along with adding the term ‘ergonomics’ to the vocabulary of many, we also got to know terms like ‘butterfly ballot’ and ‘chad’. Yes, I am speaking of the infamous Florida voting disaster in which thousands of people were unable to properly cast their voice. As the story broke, ergonomics and human factors specialists nodded heads and agreed that some basic principles were ignored. Had they identified their user population, which included a high percentage of elderly voters? Had any usability testing been done, any feedback collected?
As we look to avoid a similar situation in the future, The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES) has joined the initiative to create a new technical voting equipment standard underway at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Standards Association (IEEE-SA).
HFES will focus on those portions of the standard that concern the interaction between voters and voting systems.
The IEEE-SA Project 1583, Voting Equipment Standard, aims to make the voting process more reliable, secure and accessible and help guide states and others in replacing existing voting equipment. It will encompass the latest engineering, quality, usability, accessibility, information and security technologies.
“The last election made it clear our voting systems have to be reworked so they are more accurate and easier to use,” says Lynn Strother, HFES executive director. “We decided to join the IEEE in tackling this complex problem because the next generation of voting systems must incorporate our best thinking on how people interface with them or we risk creating more problems than we resolve.”
Work on the new standard began in June 2001 and is estimated to last two years.