Ever got confused filling out a ballot paper at an election?
You are not alone.
There has been a rather large movement looking at the types of errors made when attempting to vote. The most famous example is the 2000 US Federal Election and the butterfly ballot used in some counties in the key state of Florida. The ballot in question can be seen below. It appears really really likely that a number of people who wanted to vote for Gore accidentally voted for Pat Buchannan.
The research into this indicates that had the ballot been designed differently it’s very possible, even likely, that Al Gore would have been elected the president of the United States of America.
Unsurprisingly the design of the ballot has an effect on people voting correctly wider than this example. More surprisingly, is that it is still an issue in US Elections.
Not that they are necessarily the result of the ballot paper design, but here are some examples of court challenged ballots in the race where comedian Al Franken got elected to the Senate. It’s in a slide show here.
To make things better the American Institute for Graphic Arts has taken up the fight for clearer, less error prone, ballot design in it’s Design for Democracy initiative. It’s really worth a look. Among other things they have produced a guideline for better ballots design. There is even a research centre for it in the USA called Accurate.