20 December 2007
Katie English, AIGA
Katie English, AIGA

With the impending national elections in the US, recent progress made by AIGA's Design for Democracy is demonstrating the tangible contribution of communication design to getting out the vote.

Above: A sample from AIGA Design for Democracy's recommended best practice report. Source:

EAC adopts AIGA Design for Democracy's recommendations

Established in 1998, the strategic AIGA initiative Design for Democracy applies principles of communication design to increase civic participation by making interactions between the US government and its citizens more understandable, efficient and trustworthy. Independent, pragmatic and committed to the public good, Design for Democracy collaborates with researchers, designers and policy-makers, from professional, governmental and academic communities, on projects including the establishment of best practices in election design on behalf of the US Election Assistance Commission (EAC).

Design for Democracy first directed its focus toward election design in 2000, shortly after ballot design flaws were exposed in South Florida. Subsequently, the initiative has developed solutions for elections in Cook County, Illinois and in the state of Oregon, as well as provided election design guidelines for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Design for Democracy began work with the US EAC in 2005. On 14 June 2007, in a public meeting in Washington, DC, the EAC accepted AIGA Design for Democracy s research report and best practice recommendations on ballot and polling place material design. This action results in concrete guidelines and samples for local jurisdictions, enabling them to benefit from information and interaction design principles in order to make voting easier and more comprehensible for all citizens. The project involved a number of designers, brought together by AIGA: Elizabeth Hare and Mary Quandt in New York, Michael Konetzka in Chicago, and Drew Davies (with help from the Oxide Design Co. team) in Omaha led the final phase.

2007 Election Design Fellow

Now Oregon has taken their commitment one step further. Matthew Goodrich has been selected by Oregon s chief election official, John Lindback, as the 2007 Election Design Fellow, a new role that AIGA helped to define and recruit. AIGA will work annually with the State of Oregon to place a designer in the Secretary of State's office to assist in implementing AIGA Design for Democracy recommendations for election design and advance the deep commitment of the office for clear, accessible and effective information design in all of its activities.

Goodrich, a recent graduate of the University of Washington, holds the yearlong Fellow position from 1 October 2007 to 30 September 2008, a period that promises to be an eventful one. Next year's paid Fellowship will be announced in January 2008 through AIGA Design Jobs. Other states interested in establishing an Election Design Fellow program should contact Design for Democracy.

For further information, please contact:

Katie English
AIGA the professional association for design
T: +1 212 710 3136
F: +1 212 807 1799

About AIGA
AIGA, the professional association for design, is one of the oldest and largest membership associations for design professionals engaged in the discipline, practice and culture of designing. AIGA's mission is to advance designing as a professional craft, strategic tool and vital cultural force.

Founded in 1914, AIGA is the pre-eminent professional association for communication designers, broadly defined. In the past decade, designers have increasingly been involved in creating value for clients (whether public or business) through applying design thinking to complex problems, even when the outcomes may be more strategic, multi-dimensional and conceptual than what most would consider traditional communication design. AIGA now represents more than 20 000 designers of all disciplines through national activities and local programs developed by 59 chapters and 200 student groups.

AIGA supports the interests of professionals, educators and students who are engaged in the process of designing. The association is committed to stimulating thinking about design, demonstrating the value of design and empowering success for designers throughout the arc of their careers.

In 2005, AIGA became a Professional Member of Icograda.