Tips for Using NYC's Paper Ballot

Pitfalls to watch for as you mark your vote

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Make sure your vote counts: Before heading to your polling place, learn about the mistakes you might make while voting.

Ballot-design expert Jessica Friedman Hewitt, former managing director of Design For Democracy, took a look at New York City's "Demonstration" election ballot. She and a team of designers came up with these tips to remember:


Check both sides

One side is a grid, which is obviously the place to vote for candidates. But be sure to flip it over, because ballot questions appear there.




Think inside the box

To vote for a candidate, fill out the oval that's in the same box as the candidate's name. Some ovals are actually physically closer to candidates' names in other boxes.




Watch for "vote-for-many" contests

Some races have several seats open for the same office title. (For example, in the Democratic primary September 14, voters in some districts can choose up to 12 convention delegates). Watch for the tiny "Vote for any ..." notations under the contest name. And remember that in these cases, you can vote for people whose names appear next to each other.




If you're going to write in someone for an office, find the Write-In box at the far right of the ballot. Write as clearly as you can in the space provided. Also, don't write in someone who's already on the ballot for that race. Hewitt says voters sometimes do this to emphasize their pick, but doing so risks invalidating your vote.




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