Ann Arbor City Clerk’s Satellite Office @ UMMA

This project brought a pop-up satellite city clerk’s office to the center of a university campus and aimed to increase student participation by providing education about and access to voting.


Creative Campus Voting Project

Practice Area


Ann Arbor City Clerk, Creative Campus Voting Project, University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA)

The Challenge

Most college students are interested in voting. However, when faced with an unfamiliar process and confusing rules, students’ anxiety about “doing it correctly” often becomes an obstacle to acting on their intention to vote. Grounded in behavioral science research, each aspect of the experience was designed to be welcoming and reassuring for new, college-age voters.

Project Vision

The design team sought out to create multiple opportunities to clarify the process and reduce anxiety for student voters. The team thought carefully about the guidance that new voters might need and designed a system of information delivery that unfolded at each phase of the process. Multiple design elements along with consideration to the interpersonal interactions while voting were updated to allow ease during the process for student voters.

Floor to ceiling windows on two sides of the gallery made this view of the office visible in the center of campus life and flooded the space with light.

Eric Bronson, Michigan Photography

Since we were not permitted to install exterior signage, we used window vinyl to orient visitors and remind students as they passed by to visit the office and vote.

Eric Bronson, Michigan Photography

A series of green signs and floor clings acted as wayfinding devices directing visitors to the gallery entrance. The floor clings also helped visitors maintain social distance.

Eric Bronson, Michigan Photography

Design + Execution

A sequence of touchpoints—wayfinding elements, explanatory materials, peer mentors and interactions with clerks—created multiple opportunities to clarify the process and reduce anxiety for student voters. A system of information delivery unfolds at each phase of the process. A table near the entry with clipboards, pens and registration applications also carried explanatory text about the correct way to complete the form. Within the privacy of the voting booth, rules for filling out the ballot were clarified.

Trained student volunteers welcomed their peers and helped them navigate forms and prepare documents as they waited for their turn with a clerk. Once in the office, students were seated comfortably and the clerks, particularly attuned to the needs of first-time voters, initiated conversation and encouraged questions. Specially designed shirts made volunteers and clerk staff visible and approachable.

A table by the entry to the gallery guided visitors to the registration application and gave directions for completing the form.

Eric Bronson, Michigan Photography

As students waited for their turn with a clerk, peer volunteers welcomed them and made sure they were set with forms and documents.

Eric Bronson, Michigan Photography

Students could sit and interact comfortably with the clerks who were particularly attuned to the needs of first-time voters, initiated conversation and encouraged questions.

Eric Bronson, Michigan Photography

Explanatory signage at the ballot drop box reassured voters and substantially reduced the number of invalid ballots collected.

Eric Bronson, Michigan Photography

Project Details
A remarkable initiative designed for first-time voters! I love how the use of thoughtful design transforms an unfamiliar experience into an easy and welcoming one.
Juror 1
The messages we place in our public spaces create a communal discourse and broadcast values that we hold dear. This voting campaign came at a time of great need for our democracy. The materials give people clarity, confidence, and hope.
Juror 2
This project really serviced a need in our nation and society. Design is truly an industry of service to those who use its systems and this project really captured it for me.
Juror 3
Design Team

Hannah Smotrich (design/production/installation supervision)
Stephanie Rowden (design/production/installation supervision)
Briannon Cierpilowski (UMMA project lead)


ExpresSign Design, Ann Arbor (produced and installed vinyl)
“Witness Lab” by Courtney McClellan (previous exhibition that provided tables, chairs and wall mounted light boxes)

Photo Credits

Eric Bronson (photography)
Michigan Photography (photography)
Mark Gjukich (photography)
Sky Christoph (videography and music)

Open Date

September 2020