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Background


Democracy is a system of government centred around the needs and satisfaction of the people. However, looking at the way elections are designed and managed, the voice of citizens is often overlooked.

Elections trigger deep psychological reactions in voters, which has an impact on the way we vote

The Electoral Psychology Observatory

The Electoral Psychology Observatory (EPO) at LSE focuses on prioritising citizens and their psychology in the design of elections. Their research is based on two key concepts: electoral psychology (the way citizens experience and react in elections) and electoral ergonomics (the interface between the psychology of voters and every aspect of electoral design and administration). 

Elections are not usually defined as emotional events but research has shown that they trigger deep psychological reactions in voters, which has an impact on the way we vote. The EPO team has developed a new concept, electoral ergonomics, to measure, evaluate, and model the effect of various elements on voters’ experience, electoral choice, and repeat turnout. These elements range from the organisation of polling stations to ballot papers design, electronic technologies, and the various forms of remote voting offered to citizens.

What is Electoral Ergonomics?

Electoral Ergonomics is the design of electoral arrangements that considers voter’s bodies and minds. It's the interface between the psychology of voters and every aspect of electoral design and administration. It allows to measure, evaluate, and model the effect of elements ranging from the organisation of polling stations to ballot papers design, electronic technologies, and the various forms of remote voting offered to citizens on their experience, electoral choice, and repeat turnout.

One of the key criteria is the “effective access to the vote” of citizens, a concept and global metrics that the EPO team created. It ensures that as many citizens as possible can correctly register and vote if they want to. To achieve that, the focus lies on resolving misregistration (which affects around 10-30% of citizens across democracies), audits of remote voting solutions bespoke to a country’s problems, and initiatives targeted at first time voters, and vulnerable or under-represented voter categories. These notably include voters with disabilities, mental disabilities, learning impediments, and demographic or ethnic categories specifically under-represented in individual countries.

By providing an understanding of the electoral psychology of voters, we create a unique insight into the hearts and minds of voters with an aim of making elections as effective, trusted, and democratically fulfilling for citizens as possible.