Over 40% of Americans vote before Election Day, thanks to the expansion of early voting in the twenty-first century. This is widely accepted as a positive trend towards enfranchisement, given that early voting allows voters of most abilities and socioeconomic circumstances to more easily participate in elections.
Most early votes are cast with an absentee (or by-mail) ballot and counted after a complex verification process that varies by state—and by the person checking them. The inconsistent and subjective nature of these procedures result in thousands of rejected absentee ballots each election. 10% of these ballots are never corrected by voters. The disconnect between rejected ballots and voters’ awareness of how to correct a mistake results in about 15,000 ballots per election never being counted.
While design research has developed design standards and user testing to reduce rejections and improve outcomes, political, financial, and legal roadblocks have prevented widespread adoption of better ballots. Rather than waiting for a top-down solution, absentee voters need a simple process to quickly access their ballot status. Status, a mobile app, allows voters to check their ballot status and learn how to correct any issues simply by refreshing their screen.