Offline Usability: Voting Made Difficult

voting usability x markMalaysia is gearing up for General Election soon. Yesterday mainstream newspaper NST had an article about how people in Malaysia cannot even mark the voting ballots properly. It read:

AROUND the world, a simple X is all it takes to mark the spot on a ballot paper. But just leave it to Malaysians to get a little more creative when stating their choice of candidate…

…According to Election Commission figures, there were 134,058 spoilt votes cast for state assembly seats and 165,018 for parliamentary seats in 2004.

While it may sound so simple to just mark [X] beside the desired candidate, little they know that this is actually quite confusing for people, especially the elderly.

[X] is used for Deleting not Selecting

First of all, people never use [X] for selecting something. X is used for deleting, rejecting or making something void. In everyday life, people either tick or circle the preferred choice.

I am sure this problem happens in every country, it’s just more prevalent in one country than another. Sure, Governments can teach its people how to mark [X] correctly during elections and decrease the number of spoiled votes. But the better, more sustainable solution would be to introduce a system that is usable and intuitive to all people. Because when the system is flawed, you have to constantly teach the people how to use it. That means more expenses for the Government. But if the system is replaced with a functional one, the cost would decrease and there would be less errors and less headache during each election. Maybe using “tick” would help!? Or having separate “Yes” and “No” ballot boxes, where you could throw the deserved candidates? I am sure there will be dozens of other better alternatives if one was to brainstorm.