Digitizing the Democratic Process
Denmark is known worldwide for its liberal and transparent political environment. Among other initiatives, citizens can form parties and gain access to parliament, though only if that party manages to collect enough voter declarations. In collaboration with the team from the Ministry of social affairs and the interior, we set off to design a solution that could best manage and present data while communicating a feeling of trust and transparency about the mechanics that occur behind the voting process. The final product enables citizens to digitally endorse a political party, making it possible for the party to participate in general elections and elections for the European Parliament.
A quick look at how it works
A citizen can submit one voter declaration for Danish parliament elections and one for European elections. First, they initiate the declaration, and after seven days of reflection, they can confirm it. They can then choose to withdraw it if they wish. A party can collect voter declarations for both elections. If they reach enough voter declarations, the approval procedure is initiated, and once the approval is given, the citizen can no longer withdraw their vote, as the declarations become locked. In addition, a party can be deactivated on suspicion of cheating. Lastly, a party or one of its collections can be deleted or put on hold by the party owner.
When the status of the citizen and the party are combined across the two types of elections, a number of scenarios arise. Only by working closely with the Interior Ministry’s team, it was possible to understand and map this business logic to ensure all edge cases were handled correctly.
Right decisions vs. fast decisions
Though time is often a constant pressure no matter what we do in our lives, we flipped the script for this project, aiming to let people have ample time to consume information. It was essential for the success of the project that citizens wouldn’t feel forced in any way towards making a decision that wasn’t their own. Further, we wanted to remove any sense of urgency that some common digital flows utilize, for example, the patterns used when booking accommodation or a flight on some of the major booking platforms.
The unique nature of this task was both interesting and challenging for our team. We strived to design an experience that would encourage reflection and invite people to stop and think carefully about the decision they were about to make. Specifically, from a user experience perspective, designing a solution for such open outcomes involved taking into consideration the multitude of differences in user behaviour. While some people will complete the flow, some others might not, and still, others may change their minds about who they would like to vote for.
Catering to all Danes
Another extremely interesting challenge we faced during the design process was to design a platform that could cater to all citizens. In fact, citizens of all types must be able to submit voter declarations on equal footing. That includes disabled people, citizens who opt out of digital mail, Danes living abroad, and other profiles, even though they may not have ordinary suffrage. All these citizens must be taken into account and experience that it's worthwhile to be part of the political system.
Thoughtfulness is the how
As mentioned above, all design decisions were aligned toward the goal of creating a calm and informative experience. The look and feel are kept extremely simple and makes it easy for users to orientate themselves, and the copy is exhaustive and always strives to describe what actions we’re expecting our users to consider.
The backend ensures that GDPR data is encrypted in transit (network) and at rest (database). This means that it's not possible to read the data if it's stolen. Data records can only be decrypted and looked upon a per-record basis, and only trusted employee from the election unit in the Interior Ministry are able to perform such a lookup.
Trust and transparency
The overall purpose was not to force citizens through a heavy-weighted journey or force them to understand every nuance of the process and logic behind it, but rather to make them feel that they’re in safe hands, both in terms of their personal data and their ability to take political actions that are so important for a well-functioning democracy.