arrowSection 4.2 - Ballot Design

This topic is monitored by Moritz Law Professor Mary Beth Beazley

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Annotated Bibliography

Koppell, Jonathan GS & Steen, Jennifer A. "The Effects of Ballot Position on Election Outcomes." The Journal of Politics 66 (2004) 267-81.

Koppell and Steen critically examine prior research on the effect that candidate name order on the ballot has on voter choice and the outcome of elections. Their quantitative analysis of the 1998 New York City Democratic primary, in which the order of candidates' names was rotated by precinct, suggests that ballot position affected the results of the election and may even have affected the outcome of the some races. Koppell and Steen concede that this effect varies and is dependent on other variables such as media coverage of the candidates and the prominence of the office.

LaFratta, Brian K. & Lake, Jamie. "Inside the Voting Booth: Ensuring the Intent of the Elderly Voter." Elder Law Journal 9 (2001) 141-73.

This essay recaps the problems of the Palm Beach 2000 presidential election ballot and then focuses on the problems that senior citizens faced in the process of voting, including the impact of the controversial design of the Butterfly Ballot. They assert that technological problems, such as confusing ballot design, tend to keep elderly voters from expressing their intent. LaFratta and Lake also review state laws and proposed reforms concerning elderly voters, such as polling place accessibility, voter assistance, and ballot design.

Lund, William A. "What's in a Name? The Battle over Ballot Titles in Oregon." Williamette Law Review 34 (1998) 143-67.

The name of a ballot issue, Lund asserts, influences voters. Lund describes the process of drafting a ballot issue's title, in which the wording of the title is often itself a political decision. The article then discusses the legal challenges that may result, with a detailed analysis of Oregon's Death with Dignity Act. Lund then provides an overview of the process of creating and litigating ballot titles nationwide and suggests some improvements to Oregon's process.

Mulroy, Steven J. "Substantial Noncompliance and Reasonable Doubt: How the Florida Courts Got it Wrong in the Butterfly Ballot Case." Stanford Law and Policy Review 14 (2003) 203-29.

In this comprehensive look at the litigation surrounding the irregularities in the Palm Beach ballot for the 2000 presidential election (the Butterfly Ballot), Mulroy argues that the Florida courts mistakenly decided that the Butterfly Ballot substantially complied with Florida's ballot design requirements. Mulroy offers his own synthesis of Florida case law interpreting the statutory phrase "substantial noncompliance" as the proper test for determining if ballot irregularities rise to a level requiring a revote.

Winger, Richard. "Ballot Format: Must Candidates Be Treated Equally?" Cleveland State Law Review 45 (1997) 87-101.

Winger argues that some state election laws create an unfair distinction between major and independent or third party candidates on the ballot. He asserts that the absence of a party affiliation on the ballot hurts the minor party candidate. Winger also details Ohio's history of labeling candidates by party on the ballot including the 1992 Rosen v. Brown decision, which Winger asserts Ohio has failed to follow. (For further discussion of this particular issue, see What Must Third Party Candidates Do to Get on the Ballot in Ohio?)