How to design a ballot paper

Written by helen harvey
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How to design a ballot paper
Clear ballot papers are crucial to the election process. (directional vote sign image by Pix by Marti from Fotolia.com)

Electoral ballot papers that are easy to understand are essential to the smooth running and fairness of the election process, no matter what the election is for. Whether you are designing a ballot paper for the election of a class president or for a major political election, your ballot paper must allow voters to clearly understand their choices. It must also allow for ease of vote counting. According to ACE Electoral Knowledge Network, the flexibility of ballot paper layout is "constrained by limitations of the election system and the definition of ballot layouts in legislation."

Skill level:
Moderate

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Open a blank document in Word. Left click on "File" and select "Page Setup" to size the ballot paper. Ballot papers are commonly six inches wide and nine inches long, but select a size that will suit the needs of your election. If it is an informal election such as class president, use the standard U.S. letter-size paper to facilitate easy sourcing of paper and simplicity of printing. Once you have created the written sections of the ballot paper, left click on "Insert" to insert text boxes next to candidate names, in which voters will place their ticks or crosses. The document, when finished, can be printed or e-mailed to a print shop to print bulk supplies at a cheaper rate, if necessary.

  2. 2

    Check with the election organising authority to find out if there is any electoral legislation with which you must comply.

  3. 3

    Determine how many candidates the ballot paper will need to accommodate. The larger the number of choices, the more crowded and confusing the ballot paper has the potential to become.

  4. 4

    Select a clear font for the ballot paper, such as Arial or Times New Roman. Make the font as large as possible. This will ensure ease of reading.

  5. 5

    Include the date of the election, the purpose of the election and who is running the election at the top of the ballot paper.

  6. 6

    Instruct voters how to use the ballot paper. Instruct voters to put a check mark or cross in the box next to their choice's name. Additionally, instruct them not to place any other marks on the paper, since this may disqualify their vote.

  7. 7

    List candidate names or choices in alphabetical order, vertically down the ballot paper. Allow as much space as possible between each choice. Insert a box for a check mark next to each choice.

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