Graphic Design

Federal Systems

Lead Designer
Rochester Institute of Technology
Federal Systems

The US democracy is facing an increasingly dangerous problem of low voter participation. Most recently the US Census recorded that in the 2016 presidential election, only 55.4% of eligible voters cast ballots. Low turnout can have a pronounced effect on the outcome of races - for example, though Donald Trump won the presidency after an unusually divisive and controversial campaign, he appears to have done so with fewer votes than Mitt Romney lost the election with in 2012.

While analysts haven’t been able to identify a singular cause of low voter participation in the US, many influencing factors include uninformed publics, inconsistent state voter identification laws, the burden of in-person polling (long lines, taking time off work, etc.), physical paper mail-in ballots, and the financial burden of voting centers on local governments.

Original Project Brief

Original Presentation Deck

Identification in the US is difficult to update or manage. Waiting at the DMV to obtain an ID, update information on the ID, or renew an ID is, on average, over an hour’s wait to see a clerk. IDs then take two to six weeks to arrive in the mail, resulting in a significant wait time for people who need to update quickly. Often updating an ID takes planning months in advance to collect the appropriate paperwork and selecting the day to go, as the DMV wait time is not conducive to taking a little time out of a normal work day.

States currently control ID designs, information, and security. This has resulted in 51 different IDs for all the states and Puerto Rico. Minor IDs may or may not be required in some states - resulting in a discrepancy in who has legal identification, beyond a birth certificate and social security card, available. In 2012, NPR pointed out that millions of people do not have a government ID due to discrepancies in paperwork registration and management for minorities during historically racist times.

Each state's design and organization of information varied widely. I focused on gathering the most common details seen in each ID, as well as image regulation for security purposes.

Each ID heavily relies on microtext and image distortions that would be difficult to recreate with conventional printers. I found many states also relied on partially visible or nearly invisible markings that determined if an ID was real or not as well. I took the most defining characteristics of those states, and often the state "thing" (bird, flower, animal, etc) and incorporated it into a holographic stamp with a laser perforation echo.

All IDs were aligned to meet the Real ID Act security specifications as defined in 2001.

Each ID was color coordinated with select states from a close geographic region, so that citizens could still carry their pride for their home regions. I'm sure you've heard the statements about being "from the southwest" or being a "new englander" - and so I organized the IDs by the most common definitions I found when surveying students on campus.

Redesigning the federal identification card system is critical to our goal of increasing voter turnout.

US voter ID laws are currently determined by each state and sponsor inconsistent identification requirements. We believe there is an opportunity to combat this national inequity in voting access by further standardizing federal identification cards. The primary accepted form of identification in the US is the driver’s license card. Other accepted forms of identification include state ID cards, voting ID cards (only issued by some states), military IDs, visas, passports, social security cards, and birth certificates. We believe that consolidating as many of these forms of identification as securely possible (drivers license, state ID, and voting ID) will ultimately equalize access to the voting process. Standardizing identification requirements could also provide related benefits like easing identification checks for in-state and inter-state travel.

A close look at the different states designed for. Each region was represented in this project.

Determining ID Requirements

  • 0-16 years (Minors)
  • Will need state identification cards (identifying minor)
  • 16-18 years (Average age of licensing)
  • Could need ID card to identify as minor
  • Will need ID card to reflect learners permit designation
  • Will need ID card to reflect drivers license designation
  • 18-21 years
  • Will need ID card to change identification from minor to adult
  • 21-65 years
  • Will need to register to a party for voting
  • No changes other than updating expiration dates and addresses as needed
  • 65 +
  • May not be able/want to drive anymore - can take driver identification off

Each state ID would be mailed to citizens using themed printing materials, and includes personalized information that explains how their ID is unique to them. All mailers include the state slogan.