My student Sean Hayes writes:
Just read your post on the absentee ballot in Ohio. I voted yesterday by absentee for Ohio–I’m from Dayton, which is in Montgomery county. The same complaints from Cuyahoga are present on the Montg. County ballot.
Your student is right: the ballots are not confusing. Yes, the numbers don’t line up, some candidates are deleted, and in my voter booklet, the senate candidate race wasn’t even part of the book, but just a loose sheet of paper.
Overall though, the concept is simple: find your candidate, find their number on the ballot; punch the hole. It blows my mind that people smart enough to complain about the ballot being a violation of their rights are too stupid to figure out what amounts to a voting inspired version of Chuck E. Cheese’s Whack-A-Mole Game.
This is nothing more than the press feeding its need to have a story, and “Florida could happen again!” is much more exciting than “Voting Procedures Understood By People of Average Intelligence.”
I think well-designed ballots should be understandable even by people of below average intelligence — there are quite a few voters like that, and one doesn’t want them to be confused, either. More to the point, ballots should be understandable by people who are intelligent but who are distracted, or who don’t invest much time in following directions closely (especially on matters, such as voting, where there’s little tangible personal benefit at stake).
Still, it sounds like the ballots might well not be very confusing even to the distracted or easily confused. I’m happy to trust Sean Hayes’ and Patrick Lewis’s judgment on this, since they saw the complete ballots from a voter’s perspective, and I didn’t.