Wanted: A Legible Voting Ballot

A study carried out by USA Today and seven other newspapers in 2001 concluded that faulty design, not punch-card machines, was responsible for voters’ confusion in Palm Beach County in 2000. Despite this finding, states have focused their election-reform energies on upgrading old punch-card machines to optical-scan systems or on implementing electronic voting. They have dismissed or ignored the butterfly layout’s problematic design as an aberration—a stupid mistake on the part of local officials. —Jessie ScanlonWanted: A Legible Voting Ballot (Slate)

See also “Why Usability Testing Matters” — my quick-n-dirty treatment of the Florida presidential ballot that caused so much controversy in 2000. While usability got a bit of broader exposure due to that flap, it looks like local officials haven’t tackled the real problem yet.