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Project Overview

Voters Voice is believed to be the first of its type in the world. There is no product available to assist users with complex communication issues to facilitate voting in this fashion.

Voters Voice assists people who have complex communication difficulties, speak Auslan or have literacy issues, to enrol and vote.

It features a Communication Board that can be set up ahead of voting, the Victorian Electoral Commission’s (VEC) Easy English Guides and Auslan footage for hearing-impaired voters. It follows mobile WCAG 2.0 AAA compliance. Cost savings for the VEC are estimated at around $1M.

Project Commissioner

Victorian Electoral Commission

Project Creator

Conduct

Team

Sue Lang
Charlie Pohl
James Cook
Simon Krambousanos
Bassem Farrah
Steve Reynolds
Paul Bonacci

Project Brief

Enrolling and voting is mandatory - and also an important human right and responsibility. Eligible voters with complex communication difficulties (estimated at 280,000-300,000 Victorians) may either avoid voting, or avoid going to voting centres, due to the inherent difficulty of communicating with election staff. Also, some 46% of Australian readers are below minimum literacy standards, according to the ABS (2006 Census).

Our brief was to bridge this accessibility gap and facilitate voting.
The app focuses on behavioural change through accessible design and reduces the voter anxiety experienced when exercising their human right to vote.

It delivers on the Government strategy of providing transparent information to under-represented voting communities; using digital opportunities (BYO technology); and increasing the capacity of government staff to meaningfully interact across what was a digital divide . This is digital-first, citizen-centric delivery of government services.

Project Need

Voters Voice - a native iPad app - is the only free app with voting terminology to include users with complex communication issues in the electoral process.

The app's central feature is a communication board. Voters who are unable to speak can set up the board ahead of attending a voting centre - providing an effective means to communicate and an inclusive experience.

The app features the VEC’s Easy English Guides for council elections and plain English information on enrolling and voting in council elections.

Auslan footage is provided for deaf or hearing-impaired voters.

The app follows mobile WCAG 2.0 AAA compliance and Apple's iOS Accessibility APIs, developer tools and utilities, particularly around speech synthesis to deliver text-to-speech functionality.

A Content Management System, gives the VEC a high degree of customization opportunities, supporting changes based on built-in analytics and the ability to send notifications to voters.

Enrolling and voting is mandatory - and also an important human right and responsibility. Eligible voters with complex communication difficulties (estimated at 280,000-300,000 Victorians) may either avoid voting, or avoid going to voting centres, due to the inherent difficulty of communication with election staff. Also, some 46% of Australian readers are below minimum literacy standards, according to the ABS (2006 Census).

The app focuses on behavioural change through accessible design, bridges the accessibility gap for users and reduces voter anxiety experienced when exercising their human right to vote.

User Experience

We have ensured ease of use by adherence to WCAG 2.0 AAA compliance and Apple's iOS Accessibility APIs, developer tools and utilities, particularly around speech synthesis to deliver text-to-speech functionality.

The functionality and usability of the prototype was informed by - and tested - with users who have complex communication difficulties, representatives of disability agencies and support workers. The use of the app streamlines the interaction in the voting centre and reduces the amount of anxiety on the part of both the user and the election official in terms of being able to understand and overcome the communication difficulty. The most likely used phrases are incorporated into the communication board and can be pre-prepared prior to the event.

User experience is enhanced through the use of the VEC’s Easy English Guides for council elections and plain English information on enrolling and voting.

Auslan footage is provided for deaf or hearing-impaired voters.

Client ease of use is met with a Content Management System, providing customization opportunities, supporting changes based on built-in analytics and the ability to send notifications to voters.

The cost savings to the VEC are estimated to be in the range of $1M when compared to the cost of printing hardcopy communication boards and training up to 17,000 staff in the use of the boards for a State election event.

Project Marketing

The approach taken to increase uptake of the app was to target disability agencies, support workers and non-paid carers - those who typically are looking for assistance to communicate more effectively with those in their care who have complex communication difficulties. This was done via:

A direct election mailout to every person on the roll within the attendance election councils included information on the app

Demonstrations to disability agencies and copy to be sent via their customer channels to clients and support workers

A major mailout to workers within supported accommodation venues through the

Dept of Health and Human Services

Using VEC’s Electoral Access Advisory Group (representing 20+ disability agencies) to promote the app

Direct contact with access workers at attendance election councils

VEC website information

Promotion through Carers Victoria

Publicity and targeting family members through traditional and social media (Facebook being most effective)

Future plans are to target family members/carers/support workers through a direct mailout to 3.8 million on the Victorian electoral roll for the 2018 State election.

Project Privacy

All API requests are handled over an encrypted SSL connection. Content is delivered only to devices that authenticate themselves securely on every transaction. Additional identifying values must be provided for each transaction to ensure that the content is appropriate for the requesting device.

Requesting devices, once authenticated, are restricted via custom purpose-built API to only request and update specific pre-approved entities.

All data is stored in secure managed cloud hosting in Australia regions.

Industry standard framework is leveraged server side to handle secure username and password authentication for any administration tasks including encrypted passwords at rest and secure session management using short term unique server side managed tokens. This directly mitigates three of the top OWASP recommendations for application security.

The app was constructed to enable only a single profile to ensure user privacy given that upon activation, the person’s name and enrolled address are required for voter verification.





Government is being transformed as tech solutions are developed and implemented to either replace or complement previous methods of service delivery. Whether it's providing the public with current and up to date critical information, enabling compliance, offering community support or increased engagement tech solutions are providing greater accessibility to government resources.
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