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Ballot Wayfinder 2022

helping students navigate their ballot

Student voters are often surprised — and overwhelmed — by the length and complexity of their ballot. Located in the Duderstadt Center Gallery Voting Hub, our 35’ installation invited new voters to "walk through a ballot"  and gain key civic knowledge in tactile, engaging ways. By interjecting unexpected delight, we transformed a stressful undertaking into a playful entry point to civic participation.

“this was the first time I ever connected with any resource for voting, the first time I felt genuinely excited about [voting]"

Student Voter

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We created an invitation with a giant ballot floor graphic, leading from the hallway into an area with four playground-like sculptures introducing key offices on the federal, state and local levels.

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Colorful, rotating forms intuitively drew students in to explore the content. Our careful attention to typography (typeface, color, sense breaks) created a clear and reassuring tone of voice.

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We introduced the top-level goal of the installation with a ‘Ballot Field Guide’ to help students connect the offices on the ballot to the issues they care about.

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Each rotating cube explained an office on the ballot with concise, plain language descriptions and salient examples of the impact the office could have on specific issue areas.

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We developed a tactile infographic to bring attention to judicial races—a consequential yet often overlooked part of the ballot.

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We designed an area to explain the ballot proposal process in Michigan and point students to reliable, non-partisan information about supporters and opponents of each proposal.

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Our research table—with tips on how to learn about candidates and links to trustworthy, non-partisan resources—normalized the idea that everyone needs to ‘study’ a bit before they feel ready to vote.  

The Creative Campus Voting Project is a non-partisan initiative based at the University of Michigan Stamps School of Art & Design, led by co-founders Associate Professors Stephanie Rowden and Hannah Smotrich. They work in close coordination with the Ann Arbor City Clerk and their UMICH Votes Coalition partners: Turn Up Turnout, U-M Democracy & Debate, Ginsberg Center, U-M Office of Government Relations, University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA), and the Duderstadt Gallery.

 

The 2022 Ballot Wayfinder was generously supported by U-M Office of Research,  U-M Democracy and Debate Initiative, and U-M Stamps School of Art & Design.

Photos by Eric Bronson (Michigan Photography) and Mark Gjukich

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