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Department of Government Ballot Paper Design Dr Theresa Reidy UCC.

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Presentation on theme: "Department of Government Ballot Paper Design Dr Theresa Reidy UCC."— Presentation transcript:

1 Department of Government Ballot Paper Design Dr Theresa Reidy UCC

2 Department of Government Two Broad Categories Categorical Ballot Ordinal Ballot

3 Department of Government Categorical Ballot Sample Ballot Paper (State of Missouri General Election ) Vote for one candidate only

4 Department of Government Ordinal Ballot Sample Ballot Paper (from the 2002 General Election) Vote 1,2,3 etc in order of choice

5 Department of Government Issues to Consider in Ballot Paper Design Instructions to the voter, Candidate information, Candidate order, Ballot shape, What is required of voters?

6 Department of Government Why is this important? Ballot papers should be designed: – to maximise the total valid poll, –and minimise voter difficulty (literacy issues, spoiled votes, etc). Ballot design effects on election results are marginal but, seats are won and lost with only a few votes under PR-STV. –Every vote counts. Low information elections.

7 Department of Government Low Information Elections Low information elections are elections which do not involve significant constitutional office and do not attract large scale media coverage. Research on low information elections has established that voters compensate for a lack of political knowledge by taking cognitive shortcuts to make voting decisions. Elections in Ireland provide a variety of shortcuts/cues for voters.

8 Department of Government Low Information Elections “Voters who bother to show up at the polls are sometimes faced with the complex task of choosing among unknown candidates in an election that has received very little media coverage. In the absence of cues such as party and incumbency, how do voters deal with the cognitive demands of decision making in low information elections?” S. Banducci, M. Thrasher, C. Rallings and J. A. Karp, “Candidate Appearance Cues in Low-Information Elections”, paper presented to the American Political Science Association Annual Conference, Philadelphia, 21/08/2003.

9 Department of Government Low Information Elections and Voting Cues Voters economise by using political and social stereotypes to judge candidates. Using basic information about candidates - party affiliation, incumbent/challenger status, elite endorsement - the voter "can associate a candidate with a political and/or social group and project onto the candidate such things as issue positions they believe the group holds" (McDermott, 1998:898).

10 Department of Government Voting Cues Ballot Position Effects Ordinal voting Alphabetical voting Party Affiliation Candidate Information Geography, Profession. Ballot Paper Photographs

11 Department of Government Ballot Position Effects: Ordinal/Numerical Voting Known as “donkey voting”

12 Department of Government Ballot Position Effects: Alphabetical Voting Needs to be considered when ordinal ballots are used Alphabetic voting occurs when voters read up or down the ballot and give a preference to the first name they recognise Seen to favour names at the top or end of the alphabet

13 Department of Government

14 Party Affiliation

15 Department of Government Candidate Information

16 Department of Government Ballot Paper Photographs Introduced in 1999 Why? Combat literacy problems Similar names Localism would suggest high levels of candidate recognition

17 Department of Government Social Psychology Insights People are quite willing to base important judgement on the basis of photographic information. Rosenberg et al 1986 and 1991 Race and gender

18 Department of Government None of the Above

19 Department of Government

20 In Summary Irish design has positive features Different ballot papers for each election Clear instructions Many voting cues

21 Department of Government Options for Consideration Randomise the ballot position, None of the above, Place the photos on the left of the ballot, –People read left to right No ballot paper photos, –Option to use candidate numbers instead Would minimise unforeseen aspects of ballot paper photos Candidates would use numbers in their publicity material, minimising use of image and would minimally reduce localism.

22 Department of Government References De Swart, H., van Deemen, A., van der Hout, E., and Kop, P., (2003)‘Categorical and Ordinal Voting: An Overview’.

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