Users’ Mental Models for Three End-to-End Voting Systems: Helios, Prêt à Voter, and Scantegrity II

  • Claudia Z. AcemyanEmail author
  • Philip Kortum
  • Michael D. Byrne
  • Dan S. Wallach
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 9190)


This study sought to understand voter’s mental models for three end-to-end (e2e) voting systems: Helios, Prêt à Voter, and Scantegrity II. To study voters’ mental models of e2e systems, 16 Houston area voters participated in mock elections that required them to vote first with a paper ballot and then with the three e2e systems. After using each system, subjects were asked to draw their mental model—or how the system works, then describe it to the experimenter, and last complete an interview. We found that most participants think about the systems first and foremost in terms of how-to-vote procedures, rather than detailed, conceptual models that describe all aspects of a system, including how they work. When designing e2e voting systems, the findings from this study can be used by system developers to ensure that voters find the systems easy to use and that the designs align with voters’ pre-existing mental models for voting.


Mental models Voting systems End-to-end voting methods User centered design 



This research has been supported in part by NSF award CNS-1049723. We would also like to thank Molly Ahn for assisting with the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Claudia Z. Acemyan
    • 1
    Email author
  • Philip Kortum
    • 1
  • Michael D. Byrne
    • 1
    • 2
  • Dan S. Wallach
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyRice UniversityHoustonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Computer ScienceRice UniversityHoustonUSA

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