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Create an easily accessible open standard ballot format!

Creating an 'open standard' for ballots could make voting simpler (for people of all abilities). An open standard would enable poor communities access to world class ballot design and help reduce one needless point of variance & confusion.

Photo of Andy Janssen
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The computing world would not be what it is today without its use of 'standards'. From the IEEE to the WC3... from power outlets to stoplights, standards can be found nearly everywhere and their use has helped create a strong foundation for innovation and growth. Using that same logic, what we if pulled together some of the best designers, pollsters, engineers, and community leaders to develop a 'standard ballot' which could be utilized by districts, counties, states, and even nations around the world to help ensure a ballot meets the basic needs of as many people as reasonably possible?  

For example, it could be focused creating a layout that is minimalist and easy to understand.  It could use large fonts, color-blind colors, or word-free symbols.  It could be extensible... letting users setup the content online for various specific ballot issues, and outputting the optimal ballot in formats that printers require to produce the ballot.

This would enable even the most immature election facilities a chance to provide a battle-tested ballot without spending time and money to design the ballot.  Having an international 'seal of approval' would validate the process even more.

Election captions could choose to use this tool or not... however, if done well, over time it could become the de-facto standard for everyone and they would be pressured to use it or risk being ostracized for neglecting to use it.  A common ballot would enable people around the world to be able to vote with minimal instruction as they would already know how to fill out the ballot from years of previous experience (similar to the way we all know how the mechanics of reading a book or using a street stoplight, etc...).


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Photo of Whitney

Lots to think about here.

IEEE recently published a common data format for ballot information that includes work from OASIS, NIST, VIP.... I'm not sure that it goes as far as your idea of also incorporating good ballot design practices.

The links are below. Maybe they will add inspiration for you when you get to the Concepting phase.

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