PosterVote: a low-cost electronic voting system for communities and activists

Design Futures

Collaborators Microsoft Research, Northumbria University, City University of London

Abstract

PosterVote is a simple and cost-effective way of collecting local opinions or testing out an idea with your community, and it’s much more engaging than an online survey.

Method

It allows you to ask a question to passers-by and put up a poster exactly where the changes could be taking place. The system collects votes for each answer electronically, and the results can be downloaded using your mobile phone.

Takeaways

Being low cost and easy to deploy, PosterVote has been used in lots of different projects.

PosterVote is an innovative electronic voting system for communities and activists. It’s a simple and cost-effective way of collecting local opinions or testing out an idea with your community, and it’s much more engaging than an online survey.

PosterVote allows you to ask a question to passers-by, like ‘How do you want this street to change?’, and put up a poster exactly where the changes could be taking place. The system collects votes for each answer electronically, and the results can be downloaded using your mobile phone.

It uses low-tech hardware stuck to the back of ordinary A4 posters, combining a tried and tested method of getting the word out with inexpensive buttons and LED lights. The system makes it easy for anyone to make their own poster and put it on any street in the community.

Digital technologies can sometimes be a barrier for people who don’t have access to them, or don’t feel comfortable using them. With PosterVote, any passerby can cast their vote and record their response with the system - or print their own posters for others to use. It’s minimal effort to use the system and maintain it and gets people talking about the possibilities for change in the street.

Newcastle Central MP Chi Onwurah using PosterVote
Newcastle Central MP Chi Onwurah using PosterVote

Once you have collected opinions from the posters, you can use it to hold decision makers to account, or figure out how to take action and make positive changes to your community.

How it works

  • To make the system accessible to everyone, PosterVote does not require any technical skills to set up and maintain. First, go tohttp://postervote.co.uk/posters/quickto make your poster.
  • Print your poster and attach an LED strip to the back of the sheet. Then you’re ready to put up the poster anywhere, whether it be on a lamppost, school corridor or community board; your poster will attract and engage passers by in the issue you have raised.
  • Follow the steps on the PosterVote website to register your poster ready to download results from your mobile phone.

For more information, visit the PosterVote website, or consider making your own poster.