65.4, November 2018

On the Cover

This simple cover design is inspired by the deceptively simple technology of paper ballots. A 2017 article by Dan Gillmor in The Atlantic laments the use of electronic voting machines that leave “no tangible evidence” of a person’s vote. From this perspective of election technologies, electronic ballots are mysterious and abstract, but paper ballots, which can be held in hand, are clear and real. This perspective removes the role of the human from the design and operation of the electronic ballot but also removes the role of technology from the production and collection of paper ballots.

This cover design inverts oversimplified notions of the role of humans and technologies in casting votes. To submit a paper ballot is to transmit data using technology designed and operated by humans. In the one visually complex element of the cover design, the hand that receives the inverted ballot is composed of binary code, yet it takes the shape and size of the hand that cast the vote. Despite the ballot itself being devoid of text, the influence of technical communication is implied throughout, from the standardized design of the ballot to the user experience of casting votes to the digital reception and translation of the ballot. Even with the “tangible” paper ballot, the risk of interference or miscommunication persists.

About the Artist

Rachael Graham Lussos is a PhD candidate in Writing and Rhetoric at George Mason University (GMU). She teaches professional writing workshops to government and private sector organizations, and, as an independent consultant, provides technical communication services, such as editing, document design, and proposal writing. She is the founding president of the GMU STC student chapter. She is available at rachael.k.graham@gmail.com.