The Troubling Woes of Ballot Design

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Not to stand too long on our soapbox here, but if you ever need one quick read that will help demonstrate a) wasteful government bureaucracy, b) the confusing lack of the masses’ ability to reason, and c) how important good, quality design is to something so seemingly simple, then go no further than a story such as this in USA Today about the government’s trouble with election ballot design. After pumping billions upon billions of dollars on improving the standards in the design of these important pieces of democracy, NYU has just released a study saying not much has really improved and people are still incredibly confused as to how to vote for Person A or Person B. We apologize, as such things are difficult and frustrating to read so early in the morning, but sometimes we just have to do it. Here’s a bit about where the study found things went wrong:

Despite all the spending since then, mostly on new electronic voting systems, not enough attention has been paid to ballot design, the new study warns. “There has not been a documented instance where a computer has fouled up the vote by itself,” agrees Kimball Brace of the consulting firm Election Data Services.

The study’s conclusion, endorsed by many federal and state election overseers, is leading counties and election system manufacturers to improve ballot designs by the November election.

So, they went out, years ago to try and find better ways to design these things and then we learn that the design of said things is still a problem? And the solution is to spend more time and money…trying to fix the design? That sounds somehow familiar.