Published on December 18, 2008
1 Ballot Design and Usability CACEO Dana Chisnell December 2008 - Sacramento
2 Typical, costly mistakes in ballot design Before-and-afters What can be done
3 Typical, costly mistakes
Better Ballots 13 important design features Brennan Center for Justice
5 Key points Poor ballot design frustrates voters, undermines conﬁdence, and contributes to related Election Day problems Dana Chisnell
6 Key points Thousands of votes are lost or miscast All voters are affected The risk is greater for some groups of voters All voting technologies are affected Usability testing is the best way to make sure that voters are successful Dana Chisnell
Certain design problems cause errors • Splitting contests into different columns • Placing different contests on same screen • Inconsistency in format and style • Not using shading to help voters differentiate between contests
Better Ballots: Re-designed Ballot, Kewaunee County Keep contests in same column
Better Ballots: Sarasota County, FL (2006) One Contest Per Screen for DREs
Better Ballots: Sarasota Ballot Compared to Charlotte Ballot
Better Ballots: Los Angeles County Format consistently
12 Before and after
Cedar County: May 2006 for ES&S optical scanners
Cedar County: November 2006 for ES&S optical scanners
King County: November 2004 for Premier optical scanners
King County: November 2008 for Premier optical scanners
Shawnee County: November 2004 for Premier optical scanners
Shawnee County: November 2008 for Premier optical scanners
TEST BALLOT GENERAL ELECTION 19 NOVEMBER 4, 2008 MARIN COUNTY, CALIFORNIA INSTRUCTIONS TO VOTERS: • Use only the marking pen provided, or a ball-point pen with black ink. • To vote for a candidate, completely blacken the oval next to your choice, like this . Do not vote for more than the number of candidates to be elected. • When there are two (2) or more candidates to be elected for the same office, blacken the ovals next to each of your choices. • To vote on a measure, blacken the oval next to the word YES or next to the word NO. • Write-in candidates: To vote for a qualified write-in candidate, blacken the oval next to the blank line for the office and write the name of the person on the line. Do not vote for both a write-in candidate and a candidate whose name is on the ballot for the same office. • All distingushing marks on the ballot are forbidden and void the ballot. • If you make a mistake, tear your ballot, or want to change your vote, return it to the election official and obtain another. FEDERAL DISTRICT PROPOSITION 3: CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL BOND ACT. GRANT PRESIDENT AND VICE PRESIDENT MARIN HEALTHCARE DISTRICT, PROGRAM. INITIATIVE STATUTE. Vote for One Party (1) DIRECTOR Authorizes $980,000,000 in general Vote for no more than Two (2) obligation bonds for construction, BOB BARR Libertarian expansion, remodeling, renovation, WAYNE A. ROOT furnishing and equipping of eligible JOHN MCCAIN Republican ARCHIMEDES RAMIREZ children’s hospitals. Fiscal Impact: State SARAH PALIN Neurosurgeon cost of about $2 billion over 30 years to pay CYNTHIA MCKINNEY Green PETER CHRISTIAN ROMANOWSKY off both the principal ($980 million) and ROSA CLEMENTE Minister/Entertainer/Artist interest ($933 million) costs of the bonds. ALAN KEYES American Independent HARRIS (HANK) SIMMONDS WILEY S. DRAKE, SR. Retired Physician Payments of about $64 million per year. RALPH NADER Peace And Freedom SHARON J. JACKSON MATT GONZALEZ Incumbent BARACK OBAMA Democratic FRANK PARNELL YES NO JOE BIDEN Physician/Businessman PROPOSITION 4: WAITING PERIOD AND PARENTAL NOTIFICATION BEFORE UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE, TERMINATION OF MINOR’S 6TH DISTRICT PREGNANCY. INITIATIVE Vote for One (1) MEASURES SUBMITTED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT. TO THE VOTERS Changes California Constitution, prohibiting abortion for unemancipated minor until 48 JOEL R. SMOLEN Libertarian hours after physician notifies minor’s Registered Investment Advisor STATE parent, legal guardian, or, in limited cases, MIKE HALLIWELL Republican PROPOSITION 1A: SAFE, RELIABLE HIGH- substitute adult relative. Provides an College Professor SPEED PASSENGER TRAIN. exception for medical emergency or LYNN WOOLSEY Democratic To provide Californians a safe, convenient, U.S. Representative parental waiver. Fiscal Impact: Potential affordable, and reliable alternative to driving and unknown net state costs of several million high gas prices; to provide good-paying jobs dollars annually for health and social and improve California’s economy while services programs, court administration, STATE reducing air pollution, global warming and state health agency administration
20 NOVEMBER 4, 2008 MARIN COUNTY, CALIFORNIA INSTRUCTIONS TO VOTERS: • Use only the marking pen provided or a ball point pen with black ink. • To vote for a candidate, completely blacken the oval to the left of the name, like this . Where two or more candidates for the same office are to be elected, blacken the oval to the left of each of your choices. • To vote on a measure, completely blacken the oval next to YES or NO. • To vote for a qualified write-in candidate, completely blacken the oval next to the blank line for that office and write the name of the person on the line. • If you make a mistake, damage your ballot, or you want to change a vote, take your ballot to an election worker and get another. All distinguishing marks are forbidden and void the ballot. FEDERAL DISTRICT PROPOSITION 2: STANDARDS FOR CONFINING FARM ANIMALS. PRESIDENT AND VICE PRESIDENT MARIN HEALTHCARE DISTRICT, INITIATIVE STATUTE. Vote for One Party (1) DIRECTOR Requires that certain farm animals be Vote for no more than Two (2) allowed, for the majority of every day, to BOB BARR Libertarian fully extend their limbs or wings, lie down, WAYNE A. ROOT stand up and turn around. Limited JOHN MCCAIN Republican ARCHIMEDES RAMIREZ exceptions apply. SARAH PALIN Neurosurgeon Fiscal Impact: Potential unknown CYNTHIA MCKINNEY Green PETER CHRISTIAN ROMANOWSKY decrease in state and local tax revenues ROSA CLEMENTE Minister/Entertainer/Artist from farm businesses, possibly in the range ALAN KEYES American Independent HARRIS (HANK) SIMMONDS WILEY S. DRAKE, SR. Retired Physician of several million dollars annually. Potential RALPH NADER Peace And Freedom SHARON J. JACKSON minor local and state enforcement and MATT GONZALEZ Incumbent prosecution costs, partly offset by increased BARACK OBAMA Democratic FRANK PARNELL fine revenue. JOE BIDEN Physician/Businessman YES NO UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE, PROPOSITION 3: CHILDREN’S 6TH DISTRICT HOSPITAL BOND ACT. GRANT Vote for One (1) MEASURES SUBMITTED PROGRAM. INITIATIVE STATUTE. TO THE VOTERS Authorizes $980,000,000 in general obligation bonds for construction, JOEL R. SMOLEN Libertarian expansion, remodeling, renovation, Registered Investment Advisor STATE furnishing and equipping of eligible MIKE HALLIWELL Republican PROPOSITION 1A: SAFE, RELIABLE HIGH- children’s hospitals. College Professor
21 What can be done
Better Ballots: Limitations State law Machines Expense History
Better Ballots: What Can Be Done? • Use a ballot design checklist • Review old ballots/work with experts • Conduct usability testing of ballots • Public education/publicize sample ballots
24 Ballot design checklist Ballot instructions should be brief, simple, and clear Don’t split contests Make sure ballot design is consistent Make ballots easy to understand visually Give voters maximum ﬂexibility Dana Chisnell
25 1. Plan, minimally 2. Get the team on board 3. Use the LEO Testing Kit 4. Recruit participants 5. Conduct sessions Usability testing steps 6. Debrief and decide
Better Ballots: Sarasota County
Better Ballots: Kewaunee County Gradual levels of improvement: Elections ofﬁcials do not have to implement every design suggestion to improve the usability of their ballots.
28 Best practices ✤ AIGA: Design for Democracy for EAC Guidelines ✤ Brennan Center: Better Ballots ✤ UPA: ongoing testing, LEO Usability Test Kit Usability testing
29 Resources Usability Professionals’ Association: www.usabilityprofessionals.org/ LEO Usability Testing Kit: http:// www.usabilityprofessionals.org/ civiclife/voting/leo_testing.html Ballot Usability and Accessibility Blog: http://ballotusability.blogspot.com/ Dana Chisnell
30 Resources Brennan Center for Justice at NYU: Better Ballots http://www.brennancenter.org/ content/resource/better_ballots/ AIGA - Design for Democracy: Effective Design for Federal Elections http://www.aiga.org/content.cfm/ design-for-democracy-eac-reports Dana Chisnell
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