What: A speculative mandatory voting system
Who: American citizens
Where: Products of Design class "Affirming Artifacts", under the guidance of Allan Chochinov
When: Products of Design, Semester 1
Why: To redesign the next thing I threw out [a milkshake container]
How: By associating the milkshake container with the quintessence of America, I decided to try to promote civic virtues by redesigning the to-go drink container. Through a design process that emphasized the power of lateral thinking, the America Votes system morphed from an optional, RFID-powered voting system that was linked to users' Social Security numbers via credit card information, to a cellphone app and texting service in which voting was mandatory.
Though smartphones seem ubiquitous in America, only 56% of Americans have them. For those that do have smartphones, on Election Day the America Votes app suspends cellular service until the user has read position papers written by both parties, as well as three third-party articles on the candidates. After answering a short quiz, users can cast a vote and have their cellphone service restored. Users without a smartphone can find information about the candidates, short articles about them, and a vote-by-texting number on the sides of to-go cups from their favorite fast food and fast casual restaurants. By situating the act of voting in restaurants, America Votes seeks to revive civic engagement in Americans, and to make voting a social act.