Civic Design

Monday, July 28, 2008

Better Ballots lists simple guidelines for making ballots easy to use

The report that the Brennan Center published on July 21, Better Ballots, lists excellent best practices for making ballots easy to use, including:

  • 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.

Within each of these best practices points, the report lists detailed guidelines that should help local elections officials and vendors implement ballot designs with which voters are more likely to vote as they intend.

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Brennan Center recommends usability testing of ballot designs before Election Day

In the Brennan Center's review of ballot designs and instructions for its report Better Ballots, the task force writing the report found that

  • hundreds of thousands of voters have been disenfranchised by ballot design problems
  • there has been little or no federal or state guidance on ballot design that might have been helpful to elections officials who define and design ballots at the local level
  • usability testing is the best way to ensure that voters can use ballots to vote as they intend

The recommendation to include usability testing in the ballot design process is a major revelation in the election world. The UPA Voting and Usability Project has developed the LEO Usability Test Kit to help local elections officials to do their own simple, quick usability tests of ballot designs.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

UPA member Josie Scott trains Ohio elections officials to usability test ballots

Ohio has experienced dozens of major issues in elections over the last 10 years. Now as part of her efforts at improving elections, Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner's staff invited UPA's Usability and Voting Project to instruct local elections officials from throughout Ohio on how to use the Project's LEO Usability Test Kit to test their ballot designs before Election Day.

Usability and Voting Project member Josie Scott conducted training in Columbus with about 50 county election officials on July 22 and 23. Josie noted that many local election officials "will be motivated by their situations -- all of them are determined to conduct a much better election than the past few."

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Better Ballots: NY Times endorses usability testing in elections

Today the lead editorial in the New York Times discusses the Brennan Center report on Ballot Design and calls for "Congress [to] require that ballots used in federal elections meet minimum design standards. It should also mandate pre-election usability testing and make funds available for it."

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

UPA Voting and Usability Project members contribute to Brennan Center Better Ballots report

On July 21 the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law released a report called Better Ballots. The report, which includes contributions by Whitney Quesenbery along with UPA members Dana Chisnell, Caroline Jarrett, Ginny Redish, Josephine Scott, and Sarah Swierenga, illustrates and explains 13 classic ballot design problems that caused serious problems in real elections, including the presidential election in 2000.

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