Civic Design

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Palm Beach Post Urges Counties to Make Ballots “Obsession” Based on Brennan Center Report

A Palm Beach Post editorial published this week urges Palm Beach County to “make ballots their obsession” in an effort to eliminate the problems that have plagued their recent elections history. Palm Beach County was the location of the infamous “butterfly ballot” in 2000. To avoid problems with the punch card ballot, their former elections chiefs ordered and maintained the connect-the-arrow system, on which voters make a greater number of errors, the Brennan Center Report (see post from July 28) shows. The Post calls the systems now in use less reliable, and the connect-the-arrow less intuitive.

They also recall the Sarasota County 2004 ballot, in which the 13thCongressional district was placed on the same touch screen as the much more visible race for governor. Many more voters failed to vote that race than in a neighboring county, where the race appeared on its own screen. The Post suggests that voters should not be blamed for this failure, because the Sarasota ballot was badly designed.

Although the governor banned electronic voting in the state, the Post notes that nothing has been done to "ban bad ballots.” The Post suggests that simply looking at the ballot from the perspective of a voter would have revealed these issues, and urges the state to place importance on ballot design.

The Post’s suggestion of “viewing the ballot as the voter would” is easily done by using the LEO testing kit. We urge all election officials in every state take some time to review their ballots using the LEO methods before election day.

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