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Ballot Building

Title: Ballot Building

Review the Comments for this Section:


Comment  Creator  Last Modified 

General Ballot Considerations (page 1) – Recognize that there might be State standards or guidelines for building ballots and remove all references to the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines from the document.  Since these guidelines have not been adopted by the Election Assistance Commission and still subject to public comment, it is premature to include them in this document.

    • Schedule Considerations – In the 5th paragraph, the specific election database should also include the number to vote for, the method of voting (at large, etc), and type of election (primary or general).


    • Jurisdiction Election Database (pages 1-2) – The database should be reviewed before every election.  Legislation or court cases can affect the database.  Suggest rewriting last sentence to recommend reviewing database before each election.


    • Chain of custody for ballots (page 2) – The chain of custody should cover the printing of the ballots at the printing facility, during transportation, in the office before mailing, and when received.


    • Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (page 2) – The language asserting that the "sections [of the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines] related to ballots are unlikely to change in the final version" suggests that these provisions are a foregone conclusion and that public comment on these requirements will not affect the final version of the requirements.  Additionally, as ballot design is considered an "election procedure" rather than a "system requirement," the Standards Board in Resolution 2007-08 and Board of Advisors in Resolution 2007-(D12) resolved that the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines should not include election procedures.  In the absence of Voluntary Voting System Guidelines, it would seem appropriate to reference the EAC’s Effective Designs for the Administration of Federal Elections report, which includes best practices for ballot design.


lamonel 04/21/2008 02:39 PM

Touch Screen Ballots Consideration (page 5) – The recommendation to print instructions and post them in the voting station is not necessary if the instructions on the touchscreen are readily available to voters at any point in the voting process.  This recommendation seems most appropriate if a voter is unable to return to the instructions once he or she advances from that screen.  There is a typo in the 2nd sentence of the paragraph above the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines for touch screen voting systems ("form" should be "from."  Remove references to Voluntary Voting System Guidelines until guidelines are finalized.



lamonel 04/21/2008 02:35 PM

Optical Scan Ballots Consideration (page 7)

  • Clarify whether the printer is printing unmarked ballots to be hand marked and used by election officials as test decks or printing and marking the test decks.  It is not clear in this section what the printer is doing, but in the Acceptance Testing and Pre-Election and Parallel Testing document, the recommendation is that the test deck ballots are hand marked by election officials. 
  • Conducting logic and accuracy testing on the ballot styles before mailing is not always possible.  Any delay in the printing and delivery of the ballots may result in simultaneous logic and accuracy and mailing of the ballots. 
  • If the recommendation to "review the ballots in all packets" means that all ballots in all packets must be reviewed, the recommendation is unrealistic.  Additionally, it is good practice to leave the ballots wrapped in the original packaging for delivery to the polls. 
  • The recommendation to test scan each ballot printed on demand before issuing it to the voter will likely cause delays in the voting process.  As an alternative, the pollworkers could scan some test deck ballots or the first couple of ballots through the scanner to ensure that the paper is correctly aligned without causing delays at the polls.


lamonel 04/21/2008 02:35 PM

Comments on Ballot Building (3.2.6.A –page 6):

On many DRE machines, the necessity to scroll is required (up – down & left to right) when the DRE is displaying a "Large Print" ballot. There may be upgraded versions that come to market in the future, but current DRE’s such as the EDGE and EDGE 2+ require scrolling for these types of ballots, especially when an issue or measure is being viewed.


Comments on Ballot Building (Optical Scan Ballots Considerations –page 7):

In the bulleted section of this page, the last bullet references that the folds should not "interfere with the timing mark positions or the ovals".  Not all optical scan ballots use ovals, this term should be modified to read "…do not interfere with the timing mark positions or the voting targets (ovals, arrows, etc.)".


Comments on Ballot Building (Verifying the Ballot –page 9):

The first sentence in this section appears to indicate that the paper ballots should not be sent for printing until you have verified and setup the touch screen ballot. There is not enough time to do this. The paper ballot printing, for jurisdictions running dual systems (paper and DRE’s at the polls), must be sent while the jurisdiction is copying the ballot files/audio files to the DRE. If the paper ballot file layouts and relations have been verified, proofed and deemed valid, you are then loading validated files to the DRE and you would then proof and validate the DRE once setup is compete. This does not, however, require that you refrain from send paper ballots to print.

hpurcell 04/25/2008 10:45 AM
  • The document should include, where appropriate, a reference to review relevant sections in Absentee Voting and Vote by Mail, Developing an Audit Trail, and other chapters affecting Ballot Building.


barnwine 04/25/2008 03:27 PM



  • The introductory paragraphs should be revised to point out that there are often state and local election laws and regulations governing various points and recommendations throughout the section.

  • The introduction should emphasize that state and local election laws and regulations, and relevant case law, should be the starting point when considering each recommendation and/or suggestion, and that, in the event of a conflict, state laws and regulations supersede.

  • Additionally, the introduction should encourage election officials and administrators to seek, whenever possible, written clarification from the appropriate authority when implementing suggestions or recommendations contained in this section when a relevant law and/or regulation on point is ambiguous or inconsistent with that suggestion or recommendation, or its implementation.

barnwine 04/25/2008 03:27 PM


General Ballot Considerations:

Schedule Considerations-

  • 3rd Paragraph: The paragraph should be revised to indicate that the schedule should include time for public review once the ballot has been prepared.

  • 3rd Paragraph: The first sentence should be revised to include the earliest and cut off dates that the printer(s) can accommodate receiving and printing the ballots.

  • 3rd Paragraph: The second sentence should be revised to allow for sufficient time for multiple levels of review of the ballot, once printed, rather than imply that a single "proof" is adequate.

  • 3rd Paragraph: The third sentence should be revised to replace "errors" with "necessary revisions or errors."

  • 4th Paragraph: The paragraph should be reworded to clarify what is being received from candidates (filing forms, nominating applications, etc.) and that there are respective deadlines for submission with regards to both candidate information and questions/referendums which will indicate what is to be included on the ballot.

  • If it is being referred to multiple times throughout the document, the language should be consistent with each reference.

Chain of Custody for ballots-

  • The paragraph should be revised to include a basic definition of the term "chain of custody" in the context of ballot building. For example: "In the context of ballot building, chain of custody is the device that demonstrates the progression and integrity of the ballot from its original creation to its final destination. This includes a document that reflects the precise chain in the transmission, receipt, custody, control, transfer and eventual distribution of ballots from its originating point; and the parties responsible for each step in the chain."

  • The paragraph should also refer readers to the chapter regarding Developing an Audit Trail.

  • An example Chain of Custody form should be included with the document as an example of how to establish chain of custody for ballots.

barnwine 04/25/2008 03:33 PM
 General Considerations for audio ballots and Verifying the Ballot-
  • When preparing ballots in a language other than English, in addition to emphasizing that every effort should be made to utilize individuals who are native speakers of that language, emphasis should also be placed on ensuring that the language is dialect-neutral.

  • Portions of the document referencing translation of the ballot from English to another language should be revised to include a recommendation that the resulting translation should maintain the spirit of the original text, particularly where literal translations are unavailable or wouldn’t make sense.



barnwine 04/25/2008 03:29 PM



barnwine 04/25/2008 03:30 PM
  • The Project Manager should keep an inclusive log of who proofed what during every stage of proofing.  For example, after filing, a spreadsheet could be kept listing all candidates who will appear on your ballots. It would contain fields for both proofers names, the dates they proofed, the source material used, (e.g., nominating petitions, state board certifications), and changes required.  At the next step, a spreadsheet of every ballot could be used with fields for checking the various things proofed, (e.g., candidate names, office titles English, office titles Spanish, precinct strings, etc.).  As always, it should include a spot for the initials of both proofers, the dates they proofed, the source material used, (e.g., Official Candidate List, Official Ballot Distribution List), and changes required. 


  • It is also advisable to devise a scheme whereby individual proofers take ownership for a certain set of tasks.  For example, in large jurisdictions, giving a staff member control of a certain geographic location, such as a township or a ward, can increase their likelihood of success.  "I am responsible for making sure that none of the voters who live in ward 3 get a ballot that contains errors."


davidorr 04/25/2008 03:59 PM