Ballot Layout Best Practices

RCV-RC__Recovered_-49.pngDesigning the ballot is one of the most important tasks in running an election - voters of all education levels must be able to understand how to use the ballot with minimal confusion in order to be sure their vote is correctly communicated through their ballot.

The ballot layout must be easy to understand and guide voters through the sometimes-complicated process of voting with little difficulty. Essentially, the ballot must be designed for maximum usability by the voter.

Just as with ballot layout, ballot language must be designed with the voter in mind. This means that instructions must be clear and give voters enough information to correctly use the ballot, no matter their education level or amount of voting experience.

The Center for Civic Design has a set of "Field Guides to Ensuring Voter Intent" available to help election officials create the most usable experience for any and all voters.

Volumes One through Three focus on ballot design, and the principles laid out in those volumes apply to ranked choice voting ballots the same as they apply to any other kind of ballot.

The Center for Civic Design has also produced a report on "best practices for ranked choice voting ballots" which is available below. 

Best Practices

Minneapolis Proposed Best Practices Ballot (Optical Scan)

FairVote Model Ballot (Grid Style)

Principles and Guidelines Report (Ballot Design Guidelines begin on pg. 44 of this report)

Ballot Design Testing Documents (Multi-Style)

Grid-Style Ballot

Portland, ME 2015 Mayoral Ballot

Burlington, VT 2006 Mayoral Ballot


Optical Scan Ballots

Minneapolis 2009 Ballot, Ward 4 Precinct 5

Alameda County, CA 2010 Sample Ballot

San Francisco English & Chinese Ballot

Maine 2018 General Election, 2nd Congressional District