Everything you wanted to know about BAD BALLOT DESIGN

For good government types, there is no better reading than the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU law school’s Better Ballots report released this summer. The bulk of the study is devoted to 13 ballot design flaws like splitting candidates for the same office onto different pages (butterfly ballot), and placing different contests on the same touch screen (Florida’s 13th congressional district).

The study also highlights three states – Kansas, New York, and Ohio – with election code that confuses voters. Ohio? Say it ain’t so. New York and Kansas are solid blue and states. But Ohio is a bonafide swing state. The three problematic design components are: 1) A requirement that candidate names appear in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS instead of simply capitalizing the First Letter Of Each Word. All caps design made more sense in the age of a single type face and size, but are considered an outdated relic by designed today; 2) A requirement that certain text and certain contest names be centered, rather than flushed left, and; 3) Needlessly confusing directions that cause people to simply ignore them.

There is some good news, however. Ohio’s election code is not immutable. The Secretary of State may override some portions of it. And so, for our Ohio readers, Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner can be found here.

For more on how design can (or if you prefer the dramatic, how design can save democracy, go to the American Institute for Graphic Arts site here. Our earlier post on ballot design is here.


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