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.”
She breaks down those beguiling Florida ballots, the standards for ballot design — and why Florida’s ballots don’t really deserve a bad reputation this time around. One specific lesson was that you can be very well-intentioned in your design decisions, but if you don’t have data on which to base those decisions, it might not be the best design decision.
So, for example, in Palm Beach County the decision was to increase the type size. This was very specifically to help people who are older; older readers always want bigger type. But this caused the layout to push the names of the candidates across two facing pages, which meant that those markers interlaced, and it was very hard for some people to tell which hole to punch for which candidate or which set of candidates.
This is a great idea. It was awesome public administration to try to address the needs of voters in those places but without testing the design to be sure it actually works, so people could vote the way they intended. It was not the optimal outcome for all of the voters.
Full Article: The Art Of The Vote: Who Designs The Ballots We Cast? | KTEP.