We just got word that the Voter Friendly Ballot Act has passed in the Assembly.
The Voter Friendly Ballot Act is product of collaboration between New York State Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh, the Brennan Center, the Usability Professionals Association, and AIGA, the professional association for design. The bill was introduced to give election officials the flexibility to create ballots that are simple and easy for New Yorkers to use and understand. A major Election Day complaint in 2010 was that the ballots were confusing and difficult to read. The state’s ballot design is governed by strict guidelines in the election law that were written for the recently-replaced mechanical lever voting machines.
The legislation would update the antiquated laws governing ballot design and would allow election officials to create ballots that contain shorter instructions that are easy to understand and free of legal jargon. It would display candidates’ names in clear, bold, readable text. It would reduce ambiguity and confusion by positioning fill-in ovals directly next to candidates’ names on the left. The bill would also allow for increased text size and legibility by reducing clutter near candidates’ names.
Here’s an example of the types of ballots the bill would allow election officials to create – a major improvement from 2010.
Making sure that ballots are not confusing and easy to read is something politicians of all political stripes should be able to agree on. We hope the Senate follows the Assembly’s lead ASAP.