The number of people voting in Ireland is falling and research shows that Ireland has had one of the lowest average turnout levels in western Europe across recent electoral contests.
As voting is one of the easiest ways to participate in democracy, this reduced voting is arguably symptomatic of a general decrease in engagement which is a threat to democratic legitimacy and may not reflect the will of the people. The aim of my Major Project was to implement some measure that will be likely to lead to an increase in turnout.
Service Design follows a process of clarifying the root problem to ensure we design a solution for the right problem before then designing the best solution to that problem. Following research and interviews, which showed that good education of young people which could be later recalled was the most effective intervention, my challenge became “How might we educate those who are turning sixteen about voting in such a way as they are likely to continue voting.”
Service Design is very focused on involving stakeholders and designing for their needs, so I worked closely with teachers and students to design an innovative solution focused on improving education and measures to help recall this. This included a well designed manual for teachers and realistic mock elections and learnings for students to be delivered by older students with whom they might have a better relationship. Students would create messages to their future selves along with videos to be sent to themselves by an Electoral Commission when an election would be called.
The results of the project are significant as it addresses the main barriers identified without incurring significant cost. The service was tested by stepping through the Service Blueprint, with teachers and young people, with the operation of the backstage being fully detailed to ensure that the solution is workable and cost-effective.
Coming from a “traditional” project management background, Service Design methodology, using Design Thinking, proved to be surprisingly rigourous at identifying the fundamental problem and identifying innovative, practical and effective solutions.