Election Day 2017 seems to have gone smoothly. There were few contests of major consequence and turnout was low – with Virginia the most notable exception. Election integrity – the extent to which the outcome of the election matches the will of the voters – was not an issue in the news. Things could, however, be different in 2018. Concern over election integrity could become amplified if turnout is high and margins close. Given the stakes in the 2018 midterms – now less than a year away – and other concerns such as widespread reports about Russian hacking, now is the time when election officials must begin the critical work of ensuring the integrity of the vote. When most people think about threats to election integrity, security and fraud are the primary concerns. For example, were the ballots or the election totals hacked? Were ballot boxes stuffed? Were there ballots cast by people who were not eligible to vote?
THE Fiji Labour Party says the current ballot paper design withholds information that will assist voters in easily identifying the candidate of their choice. Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry made the comment in response to a Tebbutt-Times Poll on the ballot papers that showed majority of people prefer having photos of the candidates alongside their candidate number on the ballot paper. “FLP’s position is that the ballot paper should include the names of the candidates with their photographs and their party acronyms and symbols,” he said. “It is wrong to withhold vital information which would assist the voters to cast their votes with confidence.
Netherlands: With 28 parties running, Dutch voters have to use these really huge ballots | The Washington Post
The Dutch are voting, and much of the world is watching to see whether far-right populist Geert Wilders will come out on top. But Wilders and his party, the Party for Freedom (PVV), are far from the only force in the election. A record 28 parties are competing for the 150 seats in the lower house of Dutch parliament, known as the Tweede Kamer. In practical terms, this has a very obvious effect on voting day: The Dutch ballots are enormous. So enormous, in fact, that people can’t stop sharing photos of them.
The ballots are being recounted, but it’s not for the presidential election. This time it’s for Mobile County’s pay as you go measure. It was the last measure on the ballot last Tuesday. And according to Election Systems and Software, the company that runs the ballot machines, a wrong test pattern was used to program the machines. That resulted in 99.7 percent of votes favoring the measure. While many voters called in with concerns and filed complaints, it took a few days to figure out exactly what happened. The company has since taken accountability. “We obviously made a mistake originally for election day, we regret that. We’ve gone back in we’ve corrected the error there in the personal program, we’ve marked ballots we’ve double checked, we’ve triple checked, we’ve run test we’re confident today is 100 percent accurate,” said Mark Kelley with Election Systems and Software.
The Mobile County Probate Court website still shows that the County’s “pay as you go” construction measure passed with 99.7 percent of the vote. “This was like the perfect storm,” said Judge Don Davis, Mobile Probate Court. But as we’ve learned that’s incorrect. Judge Davis had to wait to figure it all out before he could say there was a problem. … At least 12 complaints were filed with the State Secretary’s Office over these results, leaving Judge Davis in the hot seat. But this Monday a representative for the voting machine is taking the blame. “This issue an issue Election Systems & Software performed, it’s a human issue. The machines counted as they were told to count and the oval was not in the right place,” said Kathy Rogers, Election Systems & Software. Essentially the wrong test ballot was used for the machines to count up the votes.
When a voter heads to the polls, any number of factors may influence how she casts her vote: party affiliation, her impression of the candidates — or even the design of the ballot itself. The visual layout of a ballot can have a surprising effect on a voter’s decision. And anyone who recalls the 2000 presidential election, which drew national attention to some confusing elements of the Florida ballot, can tell you that designers don’t always get it right. So, who are the people designing the ballots? That depends on where you’re asking. “There is no federal ballot design authority,” Dana Chisnell tells NPR’s Rachel Martin. Chisnell is co-director of the Center for Civic Design, a nonprofit aimed at developing best practices for election materials. “How ballots get designed is really a combination of local election officials and what their printers can do, if it’s a print-based ballot, and what the computers can do, if it’s an electronic voting system.”
This Nov. 8, even if you manage to be registered in time and have the right identification, there is something else that could stop you from exercising your right to vote. The ballot. Specifically, the ballot’s design. Bad ballot design gained national attention almost 16 years ago when Americans became unwilling experts in butterflies and chads. The now-infamous Palm Beach County butterfly ballot, which interlaced candidate names along a central column of punch holes, was so confusing that many voters accidentally voted for Patrick Buchanan instead of Al Gore. We’ve made some progress since then, but we still likely lose hundreds of thousands of votes every election year due to poor ballot design and instructions. In 2008 and 2010 alone, almost half a million people did not have their votes counted due to mistakes filling out the ballot. Bad ballot design also contributes to long lines on election day. And the effects are not the same for all people: the disenfranchised are disproportionately poor, minority, elderly and disabled.
The San Diego County Registrar of Voters office and city of San Diego leaders Wednesday confirmed that a design flaw with the ballot could impact voting in next month’s election. Officials say if voters use a felt-tip pen, or a similar type of pen, to fill in “Yes” on Measure E, the ink can bleed through to the other side, marking the “No” bubble for Measure K. Registrar of Voters Michael Vu “has acknowledged the issue and agreed to manually examine all the ballots while they are being counted, but voters should be informed of proactive measures they can take to ensure their votes are cast and counted as intended before a problem occurs.” San Diego resident Kaia Los Huertos supports Measure K, which would require all election processes for elected city offices to consist of a primary election in June and a runoff election in November for the top two candidates.
Voter turnout in the United States is abysmal, far worse than it is in most other developed countries. In 2014, U.S. voter participation was the lowest it had been in more than 70 years—with less than half the population voting in 43 states. In general elections, for which voter turnout is typically highest, there are still some 88 million adults in the United States who are eligible to vote, but don’t. Even among those who do vote, an alarming number of ballots don’t end up getting counted. In each of the presidential elections that took place between 1992 and 2004, according to a 2005 analysis in the University of Chicago’s Journal of Politics, more than 2 million votes were cast but never tallied—totaling nearly 9 million votes that went uncounted because they were blank, marked incorrectly, or otherwise spoiled. “It’s a wicked problem,” says Whitney Quesenbery, a co-director at the Center for Civic Design. “We’ve always been in this battle between good, fast, and easy—but still accurate, reliable, accessible and all those other good things voting needs to be.”
California: More than 235,000 votes didn’t count in June’s U.S. Senate race, and some think ballot designs are to blame | Los Angeles Times
A bumper crop of U.S. Senate candidates and the resulting challenge in designing ballots may be why more than 235,000 California voters had their selections for the race rejected in June. “Our research shows a clear problem with complicated ballot designs,” said Philip Muller, an election data analyst whose firm creates online voter guides. Muller and partner Davit Avagyan sorted through election results from all but six California counties to see how many “over-votes” were cast in the U.S. Senate race — ballots on which voters chose two or more candidates. Because elections officials have no way of knowing which of those candidates was the preferred choice, those Senate votes weren’t counted. Election officials warned this past spring of potential confusion with a ballot listing 34 candidates who were in the race to replace Sen. Barbara Boxer. Under the state’s top-two primary rules, only Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris and Orange County Rep. Loretta Sanchez advanced to the Nov. 8 general election.