Are paper ballots safe?

The State of Georgia wants to replace its 16-year-old voting machines with paper ballots for fear of Russian election hacking, but are paper ballots safe?

“Safe from hacking? Perhaps. Safe from voter error? Not so much,” said Scott Thorp, a user-centered design expert and chair of the Department of Art and Design at Augusta University. “User-centered design for paper ballots is crucial for free and fair elections. Good design should never influence how people vote. A design mistake might actually have cost Al Gore the presidency in 2000. Who is to say it couldn’t cost the governorship in Georgia this year?”

Thorp, who also worked as a professor and design coordinator at the Savannah College of Art and Design, is available to discuss:

  • What user-centered design is
  • How design can influence people’s behavior
  • How bad design can lead to human error
  • Why designing paper ballots with users in mind is crucial for free and fair elections

Thorp, who is also associate vice president for research at Augusta University, has worked for more than a decade as an exhibiting artist. His research interests include user-centered design, design thinking, and the psychology of creativity.

Contact us to schedule an interview with Scott Thorp or learn more about his expertise.

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Written by
Arthur Takahashi

Arthur Takahashi is Digital Media Coordinator at Augusta University. Contact him to schedule an interview on this topic or with one of our experts at 706–446–5128 or

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Written by Arthur Takahashi

Jagwire is your source for news and stories from Augusta University. Daily updates highlight the many ways students, faculty, staff, researchers and clinicians "bring their A games" in classrooms and clinics on four campuses in Augusta and locations across the state of Georgia.

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