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Election 2000

A Case Study in Human Factors and Design


Ann Bisantz
Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering
University at Buffalo


The controversies surrounding the November 2000 presidential election, specifically the difficulties encountered in interpreting imperfectly punched ballots, provide the backdrop for this case. Developed for an upper-level undergraduate course in human factors/ergonomics, the goal of the case is to help students recognize how engineering solutions can be brought to bear to solve problems of national importance. The case would also be appropriate for use in an upper-level undergraduate course in human-computer interaction or user centered design.

  • To have students apply knowledge in user centered design to a real life design problem.
  • To reinforce concepts of mappings, conceptual models, feedback, and gulfs of execution and evaluation through their consideration in a real life system.
  • To allow students to incorporate individual characteristics of user populations in the design of multiple characteristics of a system (including computer input and output mechanisms, physical system design, software interaction styles) and to learn about potential interactions among these characteristics.
  • To provide students with an opportunity to develop a user centered testing process.
Keywords: Presidential election 2000; ballot; interface design; human computer interaction; ergonomics; gulf of evaluation; gulf of execution; voting machine design; hanging chad;
Topical Area: Policy issues
Educational Level: Undergraduate upper division
Formats: PDF
Type/Method: Dilemma/Decision, Discussion, Problem-Based Learning
Language: English
Subject Headings: Industrial Engineering   Computer Engineering  
Date Posted: 8/5/2003
Date Modified: 03/07/2016
Copyright: Copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Please see our usage guidelines, which outline our policy concerning permissible reproduction of this work.

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Supplemental Materials

The following video clip (2.3 MB, mpeg, used with permission of General Registrar, Chesterfield County, Virginia) is referenced in the case and shows the process of voting with a punchcard system.


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