Theses Bachelor's

Ballot Design: Effects, Constraints, & Mitigation Strategies in Georgia & California

Chatradhi, Aditi

The significance of ballot design is not often acknowledged, until a glaring problem in a hotly contested election comes to light, as was seen in the 2000 Presidential election. However, ballot design issues can result in votes being invalidated due to unintended voter error, making it imperative to study their effects. This thesis explores ballot design through the issue of split-column layouts and its impact on voter error, specifically overvotes. Utilizing OLS regression analysis of data from two elections in Georgia and California, I examine the effect of split-column layouts on the overvote rate and evaluate the relationships between overvoting and the use of mail-in ballots, the population density of minority voters, and the use of bilingual ballots. The analysis of both case studies demonstrates that split-column layouts are indeed highly correlated with overvoting and that the use of central tabulation can be a strong predictor of overvotes, especially when used to count ballots with a split-column layout. I then survey various ballot design choices through sample ballot analysis. Finally, I conclude by proposing mitigation strategies for election administration with the intent of remedying potential disparities caused by split-column layouts and overvoting.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Political Science
Thesis Advisors
Erikson, Robert S.
B.A., Columbia University
Published Here
May 2, 2023