Don't make me read! Less is more in information for voters

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Information about Don't make me read! Less is more in information for voters
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Published on March 10, 2014

Author: danachisnell

Source: slideshare.net

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A talk I gave to Washington State election officials about using plain language in voter information

Don’t make me read! Less is more in information for voters Dana Chisnell @danachis @ChadButterfly

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King County 2004 read easily? navigate? identify sections? find instructions? understand instructions? follow instructions easily? complete without mistakes? Not so easy to read, find sections, or complete without making mistakes Wait. Wha...?

Portland Maine 2011 read easily? navigate? identify sections? find instructions? understand instructions? follow instructions easily? complete without mistakes? People missed these instructions Why do the top instructions have letters?

Shawnee County 2004 read easily? navigate? identify sections? find instructions? understand instructions? follow instructions easily? complete without mistakes? Not ideal line length and justification. Sections aren’t that easy to pick out

New York City 2010 read easily? navigate? identify sections? find instructions? understand instructions? follow instructions easily? complete without mistakes? DEMONSTRATION BALLOT SAMPLE BALLOT FOR THE GENERAL ELECTION - City of New York - County of Kings - November 2, 2010 1. BEFORE VOTING THIS BALLOT, PLEASE READ THE INSTRUCTIONS ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THIS BALLOT. 1. ANTES DE EMITIR SU VOTO CON ESTA PAPELETA, SÍRVASE LEER LAS INSTRUCCIONES EN EL DORSO DE ESTA PAPELETA. 2. BALLOT PROPOSALS ARE LOCATED ON THE OTHE SIDE OF THIS BALLOT. 2. LAS PROPUESTAS DE PAPELETA APARECEN EN EL DORO DE ESTA PAPELETA. MARKING INSTRUCTIONS: INSTRUCCIONES DE MARCADO: Correct Mark: Marca Correcta: [Insert Chinese Translation] [Insert Korean Translation] Electors for Governor and Lieutenant Governor [Spanish] [Chinese] [Korean] Vote Once Vote una vez [Chinese] [Korean] Comptroller [Spanish] [Chinese] [Korean] Vote Once Vote una vez [Chinese] [Korean] Attorney General [Spanish] [Chinese] [Korean] Vote Once Vote una vez [Chinese] [Korean] United States Senator [Spanish] [Chinese] [Korean] Vote Once Vote una vez [Chinese] [Korean] 1 2 3 4 1A 1B 1C 1D 1E 1F 1G 1H 1K 1J 1I 2A 2B 2C 2D 2E 2F 2G 3G3F3E3D3C3B3A 4G4F4E4D4C4B4A 4H WRITE-IN CANDIDATO POR ESCRITO WRITE-IN WRITE-IN WRITE-IN WRITE-IN A B C D E F G H K J I A B C D E F G A B C D E F G A B C D E F G H K J I Democratic [Chinese] [Korean] Democratic [Chinese] [Korean] Democratic [Chinese] [Korean] Democratic [Chinese] [Korean] Republican [Chinese] [Korean] Independence [Chinese] [Korean] Conservative [Chinese] [Korean] Working Families [Chinese] [Korean] Green [Chinese] [Korean] Rent is 2 Damn High [Chinese] [Korean] Libertarian [Chinese] [Korean] Taxpayers [Chinese] [Korean] Freedom [Chinese] [Korean] Anti-Prohibition [Chinese] [Korean] Republican [Chinese] [Korean] Independence [Chinese] [Korean] Conservative [Chinese] [Korean] Working Families [Chinese] [Korean] Green [Chinese] [Korean] Libertarian [Chinese] [Korean] Republican [Chinese] [Korean] Independence [Chinese] [Korean] Conservative [Chinese] [Korean] Working Families [Chinese] [Korean] Libertarian [Chinese] [Korean] Freedom [Chinese] [Korean] Republican [Chinese] [Korean] Independence [Chinese] [Korean] Conservative [Chinese] [Korean] Working Families [Chinese] [Korean] Green [Chinese] [Korean] Rent is 2 Damn High [Chinese] [Korean] Libertarian [Chinese] [Korean] Tax Revolt Taxpayers Anti-Prohibition Harry Wilson [Chinese] [Chinese] [Korean] [Korean] Andrew M. Cuomo [Chinese] [Chinese] [Korean] [Korean] Carl P. Paladino [Chinese] [Chinese] [Korean] [Korean] Andrew M. Cuomo [Chinese] [Chinese] [Korean] [Korean] Carl P. Paladino [Chinese] [Chinese] [Korean] [Korean] Andrew M. Cuomo [Chinese] [Chinese] [Korean] [Korean] Howie Hawkins [Chinese] [Chinese] [Korean] [Korean] Jimmy McMillan [Chinese] [Chinese] [Korean] [Korean] Warren Redlich [Chinese] [Chinese] [Korean] [Korean] Carl P. Paladino [Chinese] [Chinese] [Korean] [Korean] Charles Barron [Chinese] [Chinese] [Korean] [Korean] Kristin M. Davis [Chinese] [Chinese] [Korean] [Korean] Thomas P. DiNapoli [Chinese] [Chinese] [Korean] [Korean] Harry Wilson [Chinese] [Chinese] [Korean] [Korean] Harry Wilson [Chinese] [Chinese] [Korean] [Korean] Thomas P. DiNapoli [Chinese] [Chinese] [Korean] [Korean] Julia A. Willebrand [Chinese] [Chinese] [Korean] [Korean] John Gaetani [Chinese] [Chinese] [Korean] [Korean] Eric T. Schneiderman [Chinese] [Chinese] [Korean] [Korean] Eric T. Schneiderman [Chinese] [Chinese] [Korean] [Korean] Dan Donovan [Chinese] [Chinese] [Korean] [Korean] Eric T. Schneiderman [Chinese] [Chinese] [Korean] [Korean] Carl E. Person [Chinese] [Chinese] [Korean] [Korean] Ramon J. Jimenez [Chinese] [Chinese] [Korean] [Korean] Kristen E. Gillibrand [Chinese] [Chinese] [Korean] [Korean] Joseph J. DioGuardi [Chinese] [Chinese] [Korean] [Korean] Kristen E. Gillibrand [Chinese] [Chinese] [Korean] [Korean] Joseph J. DioGuardi [Chinese] [Chinese] [Korean] [Korean] Kristen E. Gillibrand [Chinese] [Chinese] [Korean] [Korean] Cecile A. Lawrence [Chinese] [Chinese] [Korean] [Korean] Joseph Huff [Chinese] [Chinese] [Korean] [Korean] John Clifton [Chinese] [Chinese] [Korean] [Korean] Dan Donovan [Chinese] [Chinese] [Korean] [Korean] Robert J. Duffy [Chinese] [Chinese] [Korean] [Korean] Gregory J. Edwards [Chinese] [Chinese] [Korean] [Korean] Robert J. Duffy [Chinese] [Chinese] [Korean] [Korean] Gregory J. Edwards [Chinese] [Chinese] [Korean] [Korean] Robert J. Duffy [Chinese] [Chinese] [Korean] [Korean] Gloria Mattera [Chinese] [Chinese] [Korean] [Korean] Alden Link [Chinese] [Chinese] [Korean] [Korean] Gregory J. Edwards [Chinese] [Chinese] [Korean] [Korean] Eva M. Doyle [Chinese] [Chinese] [Korean] [Korean] Tanya Gendelman [Chinese] [Chinese] [Korean] [Korean] RDH RDH ✺ ✺ Worst. Instructions. Ever. How many votes do I get for governor?

California 2012 read easily? navigate? identify sections? find instructions? understand instructions? follow instructions easily? complete without mistakes? Instructions that are not instructions...

Problems are well understood too much text ignored hidden steps miss important items jargon and unfamiliar words misinterpret meaning instructions in the wrong place make mistakes passive voice = ambiguity guess what to do

Poor design and instructions on ballots make understanding, marking, and casting difficult, time-consuming, and complicated

Poor design and instructions on ballots make counting, canvassing, and audits difficult, time-consuming, and complicated

Don’t make me read! 43% of American adults have reading disabilities

Rushed Distracted Tired Stressed Unfamiliar Inexperienced Uneducated Other sources of temporary disability

California 2012 read easily? navigate? identify sections? find instructions? understand instructions? follow instructions easily? complete without mistakes?

find instructions? read easily? Yelling!

find instructions? read easily?

understand instructions? follow instructions easily? complete without mistakes?

Voter-nominated and nonpartisan offices All voters, regardless of the party preference they disclosed upon registration, or refusal to disclose a party preference, may vote for any candidate for a voter-nominated or nonpartisan office. The party preference, if any, designated by a candidate for a voter-nominated office is selected by the candidate and is shown for the information of the voters only. It does not imply that the candidate is nominated or endorsed by the party or that the party approves of the candidate. The party preference, if any, of a candidate for a nonpartisan office does not appear on the ballot. No. 04: Write short sentences. No. 06: Use active voice. No. 09: Short paragraphs. No. 05: Use simple words. 101 words

No. 04: Write short sentences. No. 06: Use active voice. No. 09: Short paragraphs. No. 05: Use simple words.Voter-nominated and nonpartisan offices All voters, regardless of the party preference they disclosed upon registration, or refusal to disclose a party preference, may vote for any candidate for a voter-nominated or nonpartisan office. The party preference, if any, designated by a candidate for a voter-nominated office is selected by the candidate and is shown for the information of the voters only. It does not imply that the candidate is nominated or endorsed by the party or that the party approves of the candidate. The party preference, if any, of a candidate for a nonpartisan office does not appear on the ballot.

Voter-nominated and nonpartisan offices All voters may vote for any candidate for a voter- nominated or nonpartisan office.

Voter-nominated and nonpartisan offices All voters may vote for any candidate for a voter- nominated or nonpartisan office. If the candidate has a preferred political party, the party name appears on the ballot for information only. It does not mean that the candidate is nominated or endorsed by the party or that the party approves of the candidate. Candidates for nonpartisan offices do not show party preferences. 67 words

read easily? navigate? identify sections? find instructions? understand instructions? follow instructions easily? complete without mistakes?

Other examples

This is Your Secrecy Envelope Instructions to Vote Your Ballot: 1. Mark your ballot and enclose it in this Secrecy Envelope. You are not required to use this or any Secrecy Envelope for your ballot. 2. Place this Secrecy Envelope containing your ballot in the colored Official Ballot Envelope. Do not enclose your ballot and someone else’s in the same colored Official Ballot Envelope. Every voter has the right to vote his or her ballot in secret. 3. Sign your name at the X on the back of the outer colored Official Ballot Envelope. Envelopes that are unsigned cannot be counted. 4. Your ballot must be postmarked no later than Election Day to be counted. Ballots not mailed must be delivered to a Ballot-Drop Location prior to 8:00 p.m. on Election Day. Are they really steps in a procedure? Wait! What if I decided I didn’t want to use the secrecy envelope? What are the most important things? How would you make this a real step?

This is Your Secrecy Envelope How to vote 1. Mark your ballot. 2. Put it in this Secrecy Envelope. You do not have to use this or any Secrecy Envelope for your ballot. 3. Put the Secrecy Envelope in the colored Official Ballot Envelope. Or, just put your ballot in the Official Ballot Envelope. Do not put anything but your ballot in the colored Official Ballot Envelope. 4. Sign your name at the X on the back of the outer colored Official Ballot Envelope. Envelopes that are unsigned cannot be counted. 5. Mail your ballot. It must be postmarked no later than Election Day to be counted. Or, take your ballot to a Ballot-Drop Location before 8:00 p.m. on Election Day.

Voter ed read easily? navigate? identify sections? find instructions? understand instructions? follow instructions easily? complete without mistakes?

Other forms read easily? navigate? identify sections? find instructions? understand instructions? follow instructions easily? complete without mistakes?

Other forms read easily? navigate? identify sections? find instructions? understand instructions? follow instructions easily? complete without mistakes?

2005 Proposed

Can voters... read all of the information easily? navigate through the form to find everything they need? identify the different sections of the ballot or form? find, read, and follow instructions accurately?

Use lowercase letters Avoid centered type Use big enough type Pick one sans serif font Support process and navigation Use clear, simple language Use accurate instructional illustrations Use informational icons (only) Use contrast and color to support meaning Show what’s most important Designing usable ballots

Can voters... understand what each instruction means? follow instructions easily? complete the ballot without making mistakes? respond appropriately to error messages?

At the beginning of the ballot explain how to vote Put instructions where voters need them Include information that will prevent voters from making errors Write short sentences Use short, simple, everyday words Write in active voice, with the person doing comes before the verb Write in the positive When giving instructions that are more than one step, use a numbered list Keep paragraphs short Separate paragraphs by a space Writing instructions voters understand

New tools.

Research commissioned by NIST SOP and Usability and Civic Life Project Research commissioned by NIST Research commissioned by EAC Field Guides series

Written and designed for you

Published by 300+ people who say

thank you for being amazing

Research funded by Kickstarter and MacArthur Foundation Research funded by Kickstarter and MacArthur Foundation Coming soon Communicating with voters Designing voter ed booklets & flyers Designing election department websites Research funded by Kickstarter and MacArthur Foundation Guiding voters through the polling place Research funded by Kickstarter and MacArthur Foundation

Field Guides To Ensuring Voter Intent civicdesigning.org /fieldguides

Thank you.

Dana Chisnell dana@civicdesigning.org civicdesigning.org @danachis @ChadButterfly

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