A report on ballot design, “Better Ballots”, was recently released by the Brennan Center. Fellow political scientist David Kimball was one of the authors of the report, and the report was backed by a pretty solid task force. I’ve been offline most of the day today, and only now started to read the report. It seems to be full of useful suggestions for better ballot design, backed by empirical research.
Clearly we can design better ballots!
As I read this report, I couldn’t help but to recall the paper that I wrote in February 2002, “Ballot Design Options.” This paper was written for a conference that Paul Herrnson hosted, in the very early days of his NSF-sponsored project on voting system useability. My paper was more about how we needed to develop a stronger science of ballot design, which a number of scholars (including Herrnson and his group, as well as Kimball and his colleague Martha Kropf) have been doing for the past few years.
Reading the Brennan report, and then looking back at my 2002 paper, led me to realize that we have come a long way towards a better scientific understanding of ballot design — but that we have a lot more work to do!