New York City Council Header
File #: Res 0671-2011    Version: Name: Require that paper ballots be designed in a more user-friendly manner.
Type: Resolution Status: Adopted
Committee: Committee on Governmental Operations
On agenda: 2/16/2011
Enactment date: Law number:
Title: Resolution calling on the New York State Legislature to pass and the New York State Governor to sign into law legislation that would require that paper ballots be designed in a more user-friendly manner.
Sponsors: Lewis A. Fidler, Daniel Dromm , James F. Gennaro, Vincent J. Gentile, Sara M. Gonzalez, Robert Jackson, Letitia James, Karen Koslowitz, Brad S. Lander, Melissa Mark-Viverito, Rosie Mendez, Annabel Palma, Deborah L. Rose, Larry B. Seabrook, Albert Vann, Jumaane D. Williams, Michael C. Nelson, Gale A. Brewer, Inez E. Dickens, Domenic M. Recchia, Jr., Ydanis A. Rodriguez, Maria Del Carmen Arroyo, James G. Van Bramer, Stephen T. Levin, Charles Barron, Margaret S. Chin, Daniel J. Halloran III, Peter A. Koo, Eric A. Ulrich
Council Member Sponsors: 29
Attachments: 1. Res. No. 671 - 2/16/11, 2. Committee Report 9/22/11, 3. Hearing Testimony 9/22/11, 4. Hearing Testimony 9/22/11 (Con't), 5. Hearing Transcript 9/22/11, 6. Committee Report 11/28/11, 7. Hearing Transcript 11/28/11, 8. Hearing Transcript - Stated Meeting 11-29-11
Date Ver.Prime SponsorAction ByActionResultAction DetailsMeeting DetailsMultimedia
11/29/2011ALewis A. Fidler City Council Approved, by CouncilPass Action details Meeting details Not available
11/28/2011*Lewis A. Fidler Committee on Governmental Operations Hearing Held by Committee  Action details Meeting details Not available
11/28/2011*Lewis A. Fidler Committee on Governmental Operations Amendment Proposed by Comm  Action details Meeting details Not available
11/28/2011*Lewis A. Fidler Committee on Governmental Operations Amended by Committee  Action details Meeting details Not available
11/28/2011ALewis A. Fidler Committee on Governmental Operations Approved by CommitteePass Action details Meeting details Not available
9/22/2011*Lewis A. Fidler Committee on Governmental Operations Hearing Held by Committee  Action details Meeting details Not available
9/22/2011*Lewis A. Fidler Committee on Governmental Operations Amendment Proposed by Comm  Action details Meeting details Not available
9/22/2011*Lewis A. Fidler Committee on Governmental Operations Laid Over by Committee  Action details Meeting details Not available
2/16/2011*Lewis A. Fidler City Council Referred to Comm by Council  Action details Meeting details Not available
2/16/2011*Lewis A. Fidler City Council Introduced by Council  Action details Meeting details Not available
Res. No. 671-A
 
 
Resolution calling on the New York State Legislature to pass and the New York State Governor to sign into law legislation that would require that paper ballots be designed in a more user-friendly manner.
 
By Council Members Fidler, Dromm, Gennaro, Gentile, Gonzalez, Jackson, James, Koslowitz, Lander, Mark-Viverito, Mendez, Palma, Rose, Seabrook, Vann, Williams, Nelson, Dickens, Recchia, Rodriguez, Arroyo, Van Bramer, Levin, Barron, Chin, Halloran, Koo and Ulrich  
 
Whereas, The right to free and fair elections is the bedrock of any democratic society; and
Whereas, In order to attain free and fair elections, it is crucial that voters are not disenfranchised during the election process; and
Whereas, One of the major causes of voter disenfranchisement is poor ballot design whereby ballots are either miscast or lost; and
Whereas, According to the Brennan Center for Justice, potentially hundreds of thousands of votes are lost or miscast in every election due to poor ballot design; and
Whereas, Ballot design reemerged as an issue in the 2010 Primary Elections in New York City, when many voters complained about the small font size and poor design used on the newly-introduced paper ballots; and
Whereas, An informal City Council survey concerning the subsequent 2010 General Election revealed that over one-third of respondents found the ballots difficult to read or confusing, with font size and layout being among the most common complaints; and
Whereas, New York City's current ballot format is dictated by New York State Election Law and is the relic of a time when ballots were designed for use with the older generation of mechanical voting machines; and
Whereas, Both the United States Election Assistance Commission and the Brennan Center have published reports recommending that the ballot layout should be redesigned and that it should include large, legible fonts; that ballot instructions should be brief, simple, and clear; that ballot design should be consistent; and that ballots should be easy to understand visually; and
Whereas, New York State Senator Joseph Addabbo and New York State Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh have introduced bills (S609-A and A4696-A respectively) that would mandate improved ballot design by amending the Election Law to require that paper ballots be easily readable; and
Whereas, These bills would also require that the candidate's name be printed with the first initial of each name capitalized followed by lower case letters, presented in a bold typeface with a minimum font size of 12, and that all other text relating to position, party affiliation and ballot questions also be easily readable; and
Whereas, The bills would also require the boards of elections for New York State, New York City, and Erie, Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties to employ one full-time employee trained in ballot design who would also be available to advise other county boards of election on their ballot design; and
      Whereas, New York State Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh has introduced bill number A7492-A, also known as the "Voter Friendly Ballot Act of 2011," which would provide a remedy for New York's hard to read ballot by setting forth specifications that would create a ballot layout that is straightforward; and
Whereas, the specifications set forth in the bill would remove unnecessary clutter from the ballot, simplify the ballot instructions, and provide for consistent ballot design; and
Whereas, the bill would also require the New York State Board of Elections to publish and distribute a master template ballot for statewide elections; and
Whereas, all three bills further the important goal of improving ballot design in New York State and would significantly reduce voter disenfranchisement; now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the Council of the City of New York calls upon the New York State Legislature to pass and the New York State Governor to sign into law legislation that would require that paper ballots be designed in a more user-friendly manner.
 
DMB/AM
LS# 1654
9/20/11