Spring 2022  |  PA 5975 Section 001: Election Design (66129)

Class Component:
2 Credits
Grading Basis:
Student Option No Audit
Instructor Consent:
No Special Consent Required
Instruction Mode:
Completely Online
Class Attributes:
Online Course
Meets With:
PA 3975 Section 001
Times and Locations:
Regular Academic Session
01/18/2022 - 05/02/2022
Off Campus
Virtual Rooms ONLINEONLY
Enrollment Status:
Open (5 of 15 seats filled)
Also Offered:
Course Catalog Description:
Election administration design principles, including ballot and polling place design and poll worker training materials. Application of principles of field.
Class Notes:
Class Description:
An innovative course on design principles and their application to the election administration field (2.0 credits). At the end of this course, students will be able to:
● Identify good and bad design in election materials and use that knowledge to review materials or provide input to people creating election materials.
● Practice basic election design including plain language, layout, and design as applied to common election materials such as voter information, how-to- vote instructions, poll worker and candidate manuals, forms, and ballots.
● Apply design principles to real election materials within typical time, financial, and legislative constraints.
● Evaluate the usability of election materials for voters and other users, using a variety of techniques.

Why take this course?

1. Every election official is really an election designer. Every time you write a notice, share news on social media, or update a form, you are designing. This course will help you be a more intentional designer and communicate more clearly. It's a good career move.

2. It's practical.
There are no papers to write. No long journal articles to read. The entire course is structured around practical exercises based in real problems in election administration. We encourage students to work on materials from their own experience, and to collaborate with others.

● If you are already working in an election department, you can get a jump start on improving the design of anything (or everything) in your office.
● If you want to work in an election department, you'll leave the course with a portfolio that will make your resume shine.
● If you are a designer who wants to know more about election design, you'll leave with a strong understanding of the constraints and opportunities - knowledge you can put to use in any civic design project.

3. You'll learn with and from others.
Remote learning doesn't have be lonely. We encourage positive sharing, learning from others, and collaboration. All the class materials are online, and so is our class discussion, so you can be part of the class community no matter what time zone you live in.

4. Usability testing!
Admit it. You love the idea, but have never been able to give it a try. We spend 2 units to get you started, supporting you all the way. Gathering input from users (voters, candidates, and others) is part of all the assignments, so you'll have plenty of chances to build your skills. You'll leave the course with confidence because you'll get guidance and practice. You'll be a usability testing champ.

5. Teachers you can talk to.
You'll have two super-experienced election designers (that's us) teaching the course and leading you through the material, with feedback every week. The topics and materials are drawn from our years of work in commercial user experience and election design in dozens of states, with plenty of examples. We love teaching. We also love learning from our students.

Course outline
Week 1: Election design and the voter journey
Week 2-3: Plain language and writing instructions
Weeks 4-5: Introduction to usability testing
Week 6: Accessibility
Week 7: Course project: select your project
Week 8: Designing election department websites
Week 9: Election guides and voter education
Week 10: Creating forms and legal notices
Week 11: Designing ballots and polling places
Week 12: Communicating with voters
Weeks 13-15: Course project: revise, test, revise
Week 16: Course wrap up

● Participation in class discussions contribute to 30% of your final grade
● Written Assignments contribute to 40% of your final grade
● The final Election Design course project, including a VoiceThread presentation and peer feedback video discussion contributes to 30% of your final grade.

Exam Format:
There is no exam
Class Format:
This is an online course, with regular support from your instructors. Each module includes background reading, thoughtful self-directed exercises, and an assignment. There is a forum to discuss your work with instructors and fellow students - and collaboration is encourage.
There are readings and assignments each week, so the work in this course requires steady participation. There are also project weeks, when you can catch up (or get ahead).
Past Syllabi:
http://classinfo.umn.edu/syllabi/wquesenb_dchisnel_PA3975_Spring2019.pdf (Spring 2019)
http://classinfo.umn.edu/syllabi/wquesenb_dchisnel_PA5975_Spring2018.pdf (Spring 2018)
Instructor Supplied Information Last Updated:
16 November 2017

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