You may already know that Oxide is a regular partner of the Center for Civic Design, an organization doing admirable work to ensure voter intent through design. One of the recent monumental tasks our friends at CCD took on was to change the way the State of California votes. (!)

The Future of California Elections initiative has gone through some past phases with CCD and Oxide. For one of those phases, we were able to help develop voter information guides, which go out to every voter in the state.

During this most recent phase, we’ve been working on the vote-by-mail system (sometimes shorthanded VBM). Under the Voter’s Choice Act, California is transitioning to a system in which all voters will receive their ballots by mail. They can return their ballots by mail or dropbox, or they can still choose to vote in person instead.

Outgoing bilingual envelope – frontOutgoing envelope — bilingual

Our role in this process involved designing both outgoing and return envelopes: outgoing envelopes to be sent by the county to the voter, holding the ballot and the return envelope; return envelopes in which the voter returns their ballot to the county. 

The envelopes needed to be clean, clear in instruction, and still obviously government-issued.

One of the design challenges for this project was knowing that we were developing a set of best practices to be interpreted by each individual county. Some of the counties design ballots and envelopes in-house, and some hire an election vendor. Each vendor has its own parameters for the exact dimensions of an envelope that it can print.

The envelopes also needed to allow for a second language to fit. These bilingual examples are what we’re showing here so you can see some of the design challenges we faced.

Return envelope – bilingualReturn envelope — bilingual

Whitney Quesenbery, of Center for Civic Design, is a true American hero. She played a vital role in communicating with the 58 counties of California, relevant election vendors, and the United States Postal Service (to make sure our envelopes met all the regulations, and actually make the postal workers’ lives easier too!).

I’ve mentioned before that civic and election design isn’t all that sexy or flashy. (Again, people need to know implicitly that they’re dealing with a government document.) But it’s work that is truly important. We’re helping to shape the way America votes, and I could not be prouder to share Oxide’s involvement in this momentous work.

View the project page for Future of California Elections.