Horrible ballot design

Wouldn’t you think by now people would at least *try* to produce ballots that work? Here’s a detail from an absentee ballot for New Jersey’s 12th congressional district. Which bubble would you fill in if you wanted to vote for current representative Rush Holt (ironically, the leading congressional advocate of improved voting procedures)?

In this instance, no great problems are likely to result: it’s the primary, and Holt is running unopposed. However, it doesn’t exactly inspire confidence for the future. This isn’t technically challenging stuff– it’s a matter of putting bubbles *next to* the voting options. Let’s please, please, please try to get this one right by November. Sigh. (Thanks, Mr J, for your technical assistance.)

5 thoughts on “Horrible ballot design

  1. Nerdy readers might like to note that this is an interesting silencing example. I genuinely don’t know how to perform the illocutionary act of voting for Holt, because I don’t know how my bubble-filling will be interpreted. I can tell that the first bubble was *intended* to be the Holt bubble, but I can also imagine those reading the ballots deciding that the second bubble, which is next to Holt’s name, should be deemed the Holt bubble. (Or they may decide to interpret both that way in the absence of a written-in name, which seems somehow most sensible but most likely to be legally dubious!) So far, this has both illocutionarily and locutionarily silenced me with respect to this election.

  2. This really should be against the law. Drawing up a ballot like this should at least result in a fine. It is, as you in effect point out, depriving people of a vote.

  3. In case anyone wants to know how this turned out… I emailed Rush Holt’s office, some local newspapers, and Mercer County. The folks at Mercer County responded immediately, offered advice on how to fill the ballot out, and promised it wouldn’t happen again. Several days later, I got an email from Rush Holt’s office. Fascinatingly, it was *not* a response to the email I’d sent. Instead, it was via the “Contact the Feminist Philosophers” link on the blog. So… A nice demonstration of the power of the internet. Email to the congressman’s office didn’t get a response, but blogging did. And now all 84 people who were sent defective ballots are being sent new ones.

  4. So his office is tracking when he’s mentioned on the web – this is good to know, especially since one suspects it is pretty common.

    (I wonder if they have a scale of how bad he has to look before they take action? E.g.,

    1=just a little silly
    2=too silly
    3=hints at incompetence
    4=too like something illegal
    5=shows incompetence….

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