Every Republican primary voter in Ohio will have two opportunities to vote for president, in a ballot twist that only escalates the potential confusion caused by the party’s large and fractious field of candidates. GOP ballots for the March 15 primary feature two boxes for president: one for designating an at-large presidential delegate and one for designating a district delegate. It’s a carry-over from a time when Ohio’s Republican vote was divided proportionally, rather than in the winner-take-all fashion being used in 2016. The two boxes raise obvious questions: Do voters get two votes? Can conflicted voters split their vote, or do votes for two candidates cancel each other out? If only one of the two boxes is filled in, does the person’s vote still count? Ohio never changed a requirement that both boxes be listed, and the secretary of state’s office says both will also tallied. But the Ohio Republican Party says only one will count.Full Article: Ohio Republican voters get 2 votes for president, only 1 counts | WDTN.
New Zealand: NZ First calls for Hindi flag votes to be nullified, after translation differs | Stuff.co.nz
A slight change in the Hindi translation of flag referendum instructions is “misleading”, claim NZ First. Therefore, party leader Winston Peters has called for all votes from Hindi-speaking people to be nullified. The pamphlet titled ‘How to vote’ accompanies the ballot papers, and sets out the first step in English: “Tick the flag you want to be the New Zealand flag”. However, the Hindi translation reads: “Tick the flag you want to be the new New Zealand flag” – the word ‘new’ had been inserted.Full Article: NZ First calls for Hindi flag votes to be nullified, after translation differs | Stuff.co.nz.
One of the basic insights of behavioral science is that the format of a choice set—how the options are arranged on a page—can significantly shape our decisions. This is true when ordering a meal at a restaurant, but also at the ballot box, as the design of a paper ballot can influence which candidates we end up voting for. For example, studies led by Jon Krosnick at Stanford University have shown that candidates at the top of the ballot get, on average, about 2 percentage points more votes than they would have if listed farther down. This primacy effect even holds in national elections, when voters are more familiar with the candidates. When the name order of candidates was randomized on the California state ballot in the 2000 election, George W. Bush’s vote total was 9 percentage points higher in districts where his name appeared first versus last, Krosnick says. To deal with this bias, many states have begun randomizing the order of candidates, taking steps to ensure that a cognitive quirk doesn’t determine the winner of the election.Full Article: Will Americans Vote Differently on a Touchscreen? - The Daily Beast.
The NSW Electoral Commission will change the way it conducts electronic voting after an analysis showed that parties on the left of the ballot paper received a much bigger donkey vote than with traditional paper-based voting. Analysis showed that the first four parties on the NSW Upper House ballot paper appeared to gain an advantage over parties that drew positions on the right. The problem seems to lie with voters having to scroll across the screen to vote for parties on the right hand side of the paper. Depending on the width and size of the user’s screen, only parties in the first four to seven columns appeared when a voter logged in.Full Article: NSW election: Left-leaning bias distorted the net vote | The Australian.
As the count for the NSW Legislative Council creeps to a conclusion, there remains an outside possibility that an error in the NSW Electoral Commission’s iVote system could put the result at risk. For the first two days of voting for the election, the electronic ballot paper used for iVoting contained an error. Two of the groups on the ballot paper, the Outdoor Recreation Party in Group B, and the Animal Justice Party in Group C, were shown on the ballot paper without an above the line voting square. Around 19,000 iVotes were cast before the error was spotted. The error did not prevent votes being cast for candidate of the two parties, but it made voting for the two parties above the line impossible.Full Article: Antony Green's Election Blog: Could NSW be facing a second Legislative Council election?.
While security fears always get a regular airing in debates about electronic voting, another question that has so far escaped attention is whether electronic voting itself can change who people vote for. We have known for decades that the structure of paper ballots has an impact on the way people vote. We know there is a small bias in favour higher placed candidates on the vertical lower house ballot paper, and a left to right bias on horizontal upper house ballot papers. This bias by position is as a result of the order in which people read the ballot paper. Some electors seem to stop and vote for the first candidate or party they recognise rather than look at all options. It can also lead to donkey voting, where people simply number candidates top to bottom or left to right. These factors get worse the larger the ballot paper. Some of the giant ballot papers in recent years have shown evidence of voter confusion as voters have struggled to find the parties they do know amongst a profusion of micro party offerings.Full Article: Antony Green's Election Blog: Does Electronic Voting Increase the Donkey Vote?.
Australia: There’s a huge design flaw in the NSW online voting system which Labor wouldn’t be happy about | Business Insider
New South Wales goes to the polls today and despite incumbent Liberal Premier Mike Baird being the clear favourite there’s a huge design flaw on the online voting platform which could cost the Labor government votes. It’s all got to do with the user experience of the NSW Electoral Commission’s online iVote system which is clunky to start with. After registering to use the platform and figuring out how to commence the voting process the ballot paper for the lower house appears on the screen, all candidates can be viewed, you can scroll up and down, fine. The problem becomes apparent when voting above or below the line. Even when the paper is enlarged on a 24 inch monitor, it doesn’t render to fit so this is what voters see. However, to the right of that are all the other options (including the Labor party). And while there are big red arrows at the top, that’s not where a user usually focusses their attention, a user experience designer, who wished to not be named, told Business Insider.Full Article: There's a huge design flaw in the NSW online voting system which Labor wouldn't be happy about | Business Insider.
Wisconsin: Election officials ask judge to toss suit over ballot design | Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
State election officials asked a judge Tuesday to throw out a lawsuit over the design of the Nov. 4 ballots, saying the campaigns of two Republican lawmakers did not follow proper procedures in bringing their court challenge. Even if the case is allowed to proceed, the election officials argued, the judge can consider changing the ballots in just four places — Racine, Walworth, Columbia and Jefferson counties. Those who brought the suit can’t argue over the ballots in the state’s 68 other counties because they either don’t represent them or the ballots in those counties don’t include the features that are the subject of their suit, they said. The filing came a day before Waukesha County Circuit Judge James Kieffer is to hold a hearing to consider whether to order election officials to make changes to the ballots six weeks before the election. The campaigns of Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) last week filed their suit contending ballots designed by the state Government Accountability Board are confusing. Ballots’ formats vary by county, but if successful, the suit could result in ballots in some areas being redesigned and reprinted.Full Article: Election officials ask judge to toss suit over Wisconsin ballot design.
Indiana: Faintly, the fine print – Printed boxes on absentee ballots too light, longtime voter discovers | Terre Haute Tribune Star
In the warm sunlight bathing the front porch of Margaret Taylor’s South 14th Street home, faint boxes are barely visible on her absentee ballot for the May 6 Democratic Party primary. According to instructions on the ballot, the boxes are vital because they are what voters must fill in to have their votes counted for various candidates. Voters must fill in the boxes across from the names of the candidates they support. However, when Taylor stands up and takes her ballot into her home, the reduced lighting makes the lightly shaded boxes nearly invisible. “I have a lot of trouble seeing it,” Taylor said. “You gotta really look hard.” Taylor, 82, a former Democratic Party vice precinct committee person and longtime activist in local politics, has been voting since she was legally eligible, and this is the first time she’s seen a ballot like this one, she said. She worries that the boxes may be difficult for older people or those with weak eyesight to see. “I think it’s unfair to everyone on that ballot,” she said, adding that other people she has spoken with share her concern.Full Article: Faintly, the fine print » News » News From Terre Haute, Indiana.
With just over a week left before election day, the Long Beach city clerk has discovered ballot irregularities that could affect more than half of the city’s voting precincts in one of the most closely watched local elections in years. Ballot tabulators failed to count votes marked on the second page of some ballots, said City Clerk Larry Herrera. The mistake affects precincts that have two-page ballots — about 169 of the city’s 295 polling places. Herrera said his office discovered the problem Friday afternoon while running a routine “logic and accuracy” test on the ballots ahead of next Tuesday’s election. The city has not printed two-page ballots since 2007, according to Herrera, and since then some of the tabulation processes have changed but were not readjusted for the two-page ballots. The primary election, scheduled for April 8, is expected to narrow large fields of candidates vying for wide-open races for mayor and five of the nine City Council seats.Full Article: Ballot irregularities discovered ahead of Long Beach city election - latimes.com.
A lengthy retabulation of the March 18 primary results in Champaign County uncovered major discrepancies in some unofficial vote totals reported on election night. In the uncontested race for 13th Congressional District Democratic Central Committeewoman, for example, Jayne Mazotti of Taylorville now has 5,284 votes — rather than the 450 votes with which she was credited on March 18. In another race — for 15th Congressional District Democratic Central Committeeman — Brandon Phelps had 517 votes, not the 574 votes he was credited with on election night. The badly erroneous election results all were in the Democratic Party primary and all in uncontested races where there was just one candidate for one position. They were the result, said Champaign County Clerk Gordy Hulten, of a flaw in the design of the Democratic ballot. A one-inch white space apparently caused tabulators to misread votes cast in all the races below that spot, affecting vote totals in the uncontested races for 13th and 15th Congressional District committeeman; the 13th and 15th Congressional District committeewoman; and all precinct committeeman races.Full Article: Big election night errors discovered | News-Gazette.com.
District of Columbia: Elections board acknowledges error on Spanish-language electronic ballots | Washington Post
When Edgardo Guerrero went to cast his vote Monday, at One Judiciary Square during the first day of early balloting, the electronic machine he was using presented him with a puzzling message. The 47-year-old Bloomingdale resident had opted for a Spanish-language ballot, and as he prepared to finalize his choices, he was informed, “¡Boleta incompleta! No ha seleccionado opción alguna en ninguna contienda.” Translation: “Ballot incomplete: You haven’t selected an option in any of the contests.” Problem was, Guerrero had made choices in most of the races on the ballot, though he did leave at least one office blank. He reviewed his ballot, tried submitting his choices again, and was given the same message. After inquiring with poll workers, he said, he submitted his ballot. But Guerrero remained wary that his vote had been properly counted, and he asked to have his electronic vote cancelled and to be given a paper ballot. Elections officials on the scene, he said, told him that would not be possible.Full Article: D.C. elections board acknowledges error on Spanish-language electronic ballots.
The typical signage at a Rhode Island voting place is not coordinated and sometimes not easy to understand. A solution from design students at the Rhode Island School of Design is to make the signs at least the same color. “You can follow the additional bright blue signs inside,” said Evan Brooks, a RISD senior. Brooks is one of a team of students who showed what they think are improved signs and ballots to the Board of Elections on Tuesday. “It just seemed incredibly confusing and intimidating. There’s no structure to it. You have to take everything out and sort through it, and just by designing it in a neater way saves work for both the Board of Elections and the volunteer poll workers who have to set everything up,” Brooks said.Full Article: Design students reimagine election ballot - News, Weather and Classifieds for Southern New England.
New York: No Microscopic Type On This November’s Ballots, Board Of Elections Promises | New York Daily News
The city Board of Elections is going to try something different this November: Printing ballots voters can actually read. The Board took a beating over the eye-straining six-point typeface on last year’s general election ballots from a legion of elected officials and watchdog groups who said the print was preposterously small. The 2013 problem arose because of the number of languages — as many as five in some pockets of Queens — into which the ballots had to be translated. Now the Board will do what some say it could well have done last year: Print no more than three languages on any single ballot, which will boost the type size to 10 points. The agency insisted it had no choice but to microsize the print citywide last year because providing ballots with varying type sizes might trigger accusations of discrimination and possibly lawsuits.Full Article: No Microscopic Type On This November's Ballots, NYC Board Of Elections Promises | New York Daily News.
State lawmakers have introduced at least 2,328 bills this year that would change the way elections are run at the local level. Some passed, some stalled. Some are mundane tweaks, others are controversial overhauls. But if election reformers want to prevent their laws from being held up by lawsuits, they would be wise to pay attention to how they’re written, says Ned Foley, an Ohio State University professor and election law expert. “Put clarity at the top of the list of things to achieve, maybe before fairness or integrity or access or whatever, because litigators can’t fight over things that are clear,” he said, speaking on an election law panel during a multi-day conference hosted by the bipartisan National Conference of State Legislatures in Washington, D.C. “It’s amazing how much ambiguity kind of seeps into laws that is unintended.” But while clear regulations are important, too much can backfire, said Alysoun McLaughlin, deputy director of the Montgomery County Board of Elections in Maryland.Full Article: The downside of clear election laws.
A White House commission tasked with making voting improvements after lengthy wait times were reported in the 2012 election is hitting the road. The president’s Commission on Election Administration, which met for the first time on Friday, announced it will hold upcoming hearings in four states: Florida, Pennsylvania, Colorado and Ohio. Co-chair Bob Bauer, President Barack Obama’s former counsel, said they will hold “a public meetings process around the country that enables us to hear from election officials, from experts and from citizens in affected communities about the voting experience and their perspective on the issues they should be covering.” Bauer and co-chair Ben Ginsberg, former counsel for Mitt Romney, invited election experts and members of the public to participate. “Please help us to ferret out the information we need,” Bauer said. Hearing specifics are still slim. Known so far: They are scheduled for June 28 at the University of Miami, Aug. 8 in Denver, Sept. 4 in Philadelphia and Sept. 20 somewhere in Ohio.Full Article: President’s election commission heads to four states | The Ticket - Yahoo! News.
Pennsylvania: Voting machine questions explored – Unused ballot design software has cost county up to $45,500 | Times-Leader
Luzerne County has been paying $6,500 a year for ballot design software that was not used, the new election director said, a decision that might have cost the county as much as $45,500. Marisa Crispell-Barber informed the county election board of the expenditure at Wednesday’s board meeting. She believes the software was purchased annually since the county started using the electronic voting machines in the 2006 primary. The board gave her permission to seek county funding to obtain training to fully implement the software and prepare ballots in-house. The training would cost $15,000 but would pay for itself because the county would no longer have to pay the voting-machine vendor to prepare ballots, she said. The county paid the vendor, Election Systems & Software, $33,563 to prepare the ballot in the 2012 primary alone, she said. She wants to secure training to design the ballot for the May 21 primary. Another employee also would be trained, and in-house preparation would gradually build a ballot database that can be used by her successors, she said.Full Article: Voting machine questions explored.
Editorials: If the court strikes Section 5 of Voting Rights Act | Richard Hasen/The Great Debate (Reuters)
We celebrated Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday last week in the shadow of a fight over the constitutionality of a key provision of the Voting Rights Act. The Supreme Court will soon hear arguments in Shelby County v. Holder, raising the question whether Section 5 of the act, which requires that states and localities with a history of racial discrimination in voting get permission from the federal government before making any changes in election procedures, is now unconstitutional. The smart money is on the court striking down the law as an improper exercise of congressional power, although Justice Anthony Kennedy or another justice could still surprise. If the court strikes Section 5, the big question is: What comes next? Reuters has invited a number of leading academics, who focus on voting rights and election law, to contribute to a forum on this question. In this introductory piece, I sketch out what may happen and what’s at stake. One possibility is that nothing happens after Section 5 falls and minority voters in covered jurisdictions lose their important bargaining chip. Then, expect to see more brazen partisan gerrymanders, cutbacks in early voting and imposition of tougher voting and registration rules in the formerly covered jurisdictions.Full Article: If the court strikes Section 5 of Voting Rights Act | The Great Debate.
National: The Election Disaster That Wasn’t: America’s poorly designed ballots could have bungled the 2012 election | Slate Magazine
Inauguration weekend is as good a moment as any for Americans to celebrate the political differences between say, Ohio and Syria. But let’s not forget how narrowly, back in November, we avoided another Florida 2000-style election debacle. The shambolic state of ballot design in America remains a potent threat to our democracy. Richard L. Hasen, a leading election expert says it best in his recent book: “If you think that a dozen years later the country would have fixed its [election] problems … you’d be dead wrong.” In the 2008 and 2010 elections, by one estimate [PDF], a combined total of more than half a million votes were not counted due to voter errors that imply poor ballot design. (For numerical context, Obama’s 2012 Ohio margin was around 166,000; had around 446,000 votes been different in 2008, President McCain would have won.) But 2012’s relative dearth of cliffhanger recounts, lawsuits, and Onion-caliber open warfare doesn’t mean we’ve fixed our ballots. We just got lucky.
Some states want their voters to take ID cards to the polls. In New York City, you may want to bring a magnifying glass. Voters who trekked to the polls for Thursday’s primary races were handed ballots with candidates’ names printed in an eye-straining 7-point type, akin to the ingredient list on the side of a cereal box. Now the city Board of Elections is facing outsize criticism over the mite-size font. Civic groups and lawmakers are calling for reform. And some voters are wondering why the instructions on the ballot were displayed in larger and clearer typefaces than the names of the candidates and the offices they were running for. “I just stood and squinted,” recalled Elinore Kaplan, a semiretired teacher in Manhattan, who said she was upset and disappointed to have so much trouble ensuring she voted for the person she wanted to vote for. “It shouldn’t be a challenge,” she said of the ballot’s design. “It should be an invitation.”Full Article: New York City Voters Annoyed by Hard-to-Read Ballots - NYTimes.com.