|STUDY: DESIGN FLAWS CONTRIBUTE TO HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF LOST VOTES IN RECENT ELECTIONS
Report Details Major Ballot Design Problems, Proposes Non-Partisan Solutions
For Immediate Release: July 31, 2012
Contact: Erik Opsal, firstname.lastname@example.org, 646-292-8356
New York, NY – Design defects in ballots, voter instructions, and voting machines contributed to the loss of several hundred thousand votes in the most recent national elections, a new Brennan Center for Justice study found.
In addition, the report notes that in the 2008 and 2010 general elections combined, as many as 400,000 people had their absentee or provisional ballot rejected because they made technical mistakes completing forms or preparing and returning the envelope. Poor design increases the risk of lost or misrecorded votes among all voters, but the risk is even greater for particular groups, including low-income voters, and the elderly.
The comprehensive study outlines simple measures election officials can take before November to cure design defects and ensure every voter can cast a ballot that counts. View a slideshow of design flaws and solutions in recent national elections.
“In the age of smartphones and tablets, many have realized the importance of good design and usability, but American elections are still marred by major design problems,” said Lawrence Norden, deputy director of the Center’s Democracy Program and co-author of Better Design, Better Elections. “The rise of absentee and provisional voting since 2000 has made ballot design in our elections even more important. If a voter takes the responsibility to vote, election officials must do everything in their power to make sure that vote counts.”
The Brennan Center’s report details four design and usability problems in 2008 and 2010. Here are a few select examples:
Problem 1: Ballot Layouts that Invite Overvotes or Undervotes
Problem 2: Poor Voter Instructions
Problem 3: Unclear Voting Machine Messages
Problem 4: Difficult Absentee and Provisional Ballot Envelopes
“The design flaws that this report documents are not difficult or unknown problems,” said Whitney Quesenbery, co-author of the report and a user experience researcher. “I hope that this stark evidence of lost votes inspires every election official to follow good design principles, and test their work to be sure that voters understand how to fill out forms and mark their ballots so their votes will be counted.”
As election officials finalize ballots and other election forms in the next several weeks, the Brennan Center’s report recommends several simple measures that can be taken to ensure votes are counted accurately. Election officials should:
The Center’s study provides four case studies that demonstrate the powerful impact usability testing, voter education, and other corrective action before an election can have in reducing voter error in elections (beginning on page 36).
For all the latest voting rights news, view the Brennan Center’s Election 2012 page.
To set up an interview, please contact Erik Opsal at email@example.com or 646-292-8356.