--- In RangeVoting@yahoogroups.com
, Michael Ellis <michael.f.ellis@...> wrote:
> I don't live in SF and have never encountered a ballot in that particular
> format before but, in all honesty, I have to say it seemed crystal clear
> after less than 10 seconds of looking at it.
You likely have a bias in that you knew what your voting task was supposed to be. You also had not been trained by voting in the other races on the ballot, such as governor, senator, etc. to look at each column as an independent separate race or races.
What if you had listed 8 candidates you had wanted to rank?
Think back to the Bush-Gore 2000 election. You have a large number of candidates, you have to have include both the presidential and vice presidential names, and the name of the party. You have an aging population with declining vision, and the voting booths aren't particularly well lit. So you decide to list the names on the left and right pages of the ballot book with arrows pointing to the puch guide in the center along the "binding" of the booklet. You can use a larger font. Ordinarily, names are only on the left page, and the right page just has some text instructing you to turn to the next page for more races.
If you explained this to someone, they would understand instantly, and probably bless you for thinking of the seniors and praising you for thinking outside the box.
A similar thing happened in Duval County, but in that case the names were listed on two consecutive left pages. On the right side were instructions to turn to the next page for more names in the presidential race.
Campaign workers told voters to be sure to vote for the races on every page - not wanting voters to only vote the presidential race and quit. And some voters did just that. In Palm Beach they voted in the Presidential-left hand race and the Presidential-right hand race. In Duval, they voted in the Presidential-first page race, and the Presidential-second page race.
There were scanned ballots used in some smaller counties that were intended to be centrally scanned, and the ballot sheet used a smaller form factor. Using the default layout settings in the ballot configuration software, not all candidates fit in one column. So in several counties, one name was placed in the second column without any heading at all. Some voters voted for this unknown candidate who was apparently unopposed in an unspecified race, in addition to voting in the presidential race.
In Scotland, they use AMS for electing members of the Scottish Parliament. Voters have two votes: (1) They vote for the MP from their constituency; (2) They vote for a party for their region.
An MP is elected from each constituency by plurality vote. And then MPs are elected from each region in proportion to the party vote. Constituency winners are counted against the total MPs a party receives in each region. Votes were cast on two separate ballot papers.
There was a concern that voters didn't understand the relationship between the two votes - that assumes to a certain extent that the two will be consistent. Focus groups were conducted, and voters were shown various ballots, including a format used in New Zealand where the parties and constituency candidates were in separate columns on a single ballot paper with prominent instructions to vote once in each column. The focus group agreed that the New Zealand format best illustrated the concept, and it was used.
Some parties used the name of their party leader to get an advantage in the regional party vote (which was alphabetized).
"Aaron Burr Conspiracy" would be listed before Democrats, Libertarians, and Republicans. In addition, there were typically many more parties than constituency candidates. In some cases, parties deliberately don't run constituency candidates, because they don't benefit when a voter decides to split their votes, and vote for a constituency candidate who might get 10% in a plurality race.
In some places, they didn't have room to include the instructions to vote once in each column, but just the two arrows. Some voters may have been confused, because while they had heard of Aaron Burr, they had not heard of Thomas Jefferson who was the Conspiracy Party candidate in their constituency. So they voted for Aaron Burr Conspiracy and also voted for a political party.
If a voter has two votes, who can blame them for using two of them in the same column?