Voting and User Experience

It’s my privilege to have worked as an election judge in Cook County, Illinois for the 2nd time in a few months. This ...

It’s my privilege to have worked as an election judge in Cook County, Illinois for the 2nd time in a few months. This election, a local primary, certainly seems less consequential than the one I worked in November. Less news, less hype, fewer Twitter hashtags and debates, billions less in spending.

No less important to the people who are coming in to vote, though. From the ones who are doing same day registration (the ultimate feel good, saying “congratulations, you’re now registered to vote”), to the woman who told me she has not missed an election day in decades. A daughter and her escorting her older mother, who struggled to hold the pen, had difficulty seeing the sign in sheet, but was ready to vote. Parents voting with their children. 

I see multiple lessons for the marketing world, and opportunities for the election world, when I work through these sessions.

Users on the Day

The County’s systems support multiple languages, write in or touch screen ballots, audio assistance, and verbal and directional guidance as allowed. The goal of the staff and platforms and that of the entire process it to ensure every person can excercise their right to vote. No mask during a pandemic? We’ll move a booth far away from everyone else for you to vote from. Want to vote in another language? The touch screen supports several. 

These people are here to vote. 

  • The voters are motived “buyers”. They made the effort to come before work, during a break in their day, after a shift, bringing a kid along to watch, all times of the day. 
  • The voters always take their responsibility seriously. This is sacred to many of them, and they are here to do a job.
  • They want the sticker. Voters invariably want their “I Voted!” sticker. It’s their proof of purchase, their receipt, and for many the only visible and tangible product of their efforts in voting. 


As a marketer at heart, and one who has to think about bringing customers back month-after-month and year-after-year for additional purchases, I see opportunities. Opportunities to shift get out the vote from being a political program run by parties, to one driven by the voting organizations. 

Imagine scheduling your time to vote in advance. Reserving your spot in line, and your day. Always accepting the walk in person, but ensuring that if you want to come at 10:00 on Tuesday morning, we’ve got a short or no-wait line for you. 

Social and email sharing. I’ve registered, have you? I’m scheduled to vote, are you? Is it potentially a bit of society pressure to vote, versus a choice of voting? Perhaps, and a line to be walked carefully. 

Picture reminding people of the elections in the past. “Hey Ted, you missed the last primary, but voted in the general. The primary is in 10 weeks (then 6 weeks, then 2 weeks, than next week)”. Sending out calendar invites to voters to put it on their calendar (if digitally inclined). Leverage direct mail for those who could use it. 

Reward voters who vote more often and more consistently. Golds stickers mean a lot. Digital certificates are great. Recognition is always appreciated.

Impact on User Experience

This is not very different than connecting with your customers. 

  • What do your customers think is important when they are making a purchase from your website? Why is it serious, important or meaningful for them?
  • Are you building an experience that makes it easy for you? (pay this way) Or one that makes it easy for your customers? (pay your way). Picture building an online experience that makes it easy for every customer to order from you. Not most. Not the biggest. Every single option they need. Not every possible one, but the ones needed. 
  • How are you recognizing your customers? Where’s their “sticker”? Apple still includes one in almost every package. Sweetwater includes some hard candies in almost every shipment.
  • Go the extra mile. If there are questions, answer them. Get the vote counted. Sweetwater has a specialist reach out to you, via email and phone. What help do you need? I’ve been contacting Apple Support for over 20 years, and have never paid for it. I went from a Bondi Blue iMac to a house with more Apple connected devices than I care to admit. 

There’s a larger political discussion about making voting easy, taking it online, who can vote and who cannot. That’s a discussion for another day. 

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