Examples of Ballot Features That May Reduce Unrecorded Votes

David C. Kimball (UM-St. Louis) and Martha Kropf (UM-Kansas City)

 

 

  1. Ballot instructions should be located in the top left corner of the ballot, just before the first voting task.

 

        Good examples:

Bay County, FL

Emmet County, IA

Pickett County, TN

 

        Bad examples (instructions spread across top of the ballot):

Alachua County, FL

Polk County, IA

Grant County, KS

Douglas County, IL

 

 

  1. Ballot instructions should be short and simple, written at a low reading level.

 

        Good examples:

Sullivan County, MO (5th grade level)

Bay County, FL (4th grade level)

Scott County, IA (6th grade level)

 

        Bad examples:

Grant County, KS (12th grade level)

Wayne County, MO (12th grade level Ė some instructions are lifted verbatim from the state election code)

Clarke County, IA (10th grade level)

 

 

  1. Ballot instructions should warn about the consequences of casting a spoiled ballot and how to correct a spoiled ballot.

 

        Good examples (ballot contains both elements):

Bay County, FL

Grundy County, TN

 

        Partially good examples (ballot contains one element):

Franklin County, IL

Grant County, KS

Jones County, IA

 

        Bad examples (instructions make no mention of spoiled ballots):

Lincoln County, TN

Dubuque County, IA

 

 

  1. To minimize ambiguity about where voters should mark their votes, ballots should avoid locating response options on both sides of candidate names.

 

        Good example:

Escambia County, FL (governorís contest)

Pickett County, TN (governorís contest)

Douglas County, IL (governorís contest)

Dubuque County, IA (governorís contest)

Barber County, KS (all contests)

 

        Bad example:

Polk County, IA (note especially the Secretary of State contest)

Bay County, FL (governorís contest)

Hamilton County, IL (U.S. Senate and governor contests)

Gove County, KS (U.S. Senate contest)

Coffey County, KS (Governor and U.S. Representative contests)

 

  1. Ballots should use shading to help voters identify separate voting tasks and differentiate between offices.

 

        Good example:

Bay County, FL

Scott County, IA

Franklin County, IL

 

        Bad example:

Escambia County, FL

Dallas County, IA

Grundy County, TN

 

 

  1. Ballots should use boldfaced text to help voters differentiate between office titles and response options (candidate names).

 

        Good example:

Douglas County, IL

Bay County, FL

 

        Bad example:

Franklin County, IL

Lincoln County, TN

 

 

  1. Avoid extraneous information and clutter that gets in the way of candidate names

 

        Good example:

Clarke County, IA (running mateís name is indented in governorís race)

Douglas County, IL

 

        Bad example:

Barton County, KS (hometown listed next to candidate names)

Emmet County, IA (little space between names in governorís race, running mateís name not indented enough)

 

 

  1. Overall index of ballot features

 

        Good example:

Bay County, FL (ballot index score of +4)

 

        Bad example:

Grant County, KS (ballot index score of Ė2)