New research on voting errors and ballots by Herrnson, Hanmer and Niemi

Paul Herrson, Michael Hamner and Richard Niemi have an interesting study that is available in Early View at the AJPS. The paper, “The Impact of Ballot Type on Voter Errors”, presents results from field studies the authors conducted, examining two different ballot formats.

Here’s the paper’s abstract:

Studies of ballots have traditionally focused on roll-off, candidate order, and partisan advantage. This study is among the first to assess the impact of ballots on individual-level voter errors. We develop new hypotheses by bringing together theoretical insights from usability research and political science about the effects of ballots with and without a straight-party voting option. By comparing voters’ intentions to the votes they cast, we are able to create two measures of voter errors: votes unintentionally cast for the wrong candidate and unintentional undervotes. Voters generally make fewer errors of both types when using a standard office-bloc ballot than when using an office-bloc ballot with a straight-party option, with the number of wrong-candidate errors substantially exceeding the number of unintentional undervotes. Voters’ background characteristics have a significant impact on their ability to vote without error. Our results offer a new perspective for evaluating the use of the straight-party option.