senate Bill S609A

Requires the use of a simple and easy to read typeface on paper ballots

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Bill Status


  • Introduced
  • In Committee
  • On Floor Calendar
    • Passed Senate
    • Passed Assembly
  • Delivered to Governor
  • Signed/Vetoed by Governor
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actions

  • 05 / Jan / 2011
    • REFERRED TO ELECTIONS
  • 29 / Apr / 2011
    • NOTICE OF COMMITTEE CONSIDERATION - REQUESTED
  • 17 / Jun / 2011
    • AMEND AND RECOMMIT TO ELECTIONS
  • 17 / Jun / 2011
    • PRINT NUMBER 609A
  • 04 / Jan / 2012
    • REFERRED TO ELECTIONS
  • 02 / Mar / 2012
    • NOTICE OF COMMITTEE CONSIDERATION - REQUESTED
  • 12 / Mar / 2012
    • COMMITTEE DISCHARGED AND COMMITTED TO RULES

Summary

Requires the use of a simple and easy to read typeface on paper ballots.

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Bill Details

See Assembly Version of this Bill:
A4696A
Versions:
S609
S609A
Legislative Cycle:
2011-2012
Current Committee:
Senate Rules
Law Section:
Election Law
Laws Affected:
Amd ยง7-106, El L

Sponsor Memo

BILL NUMBER:S609A REVISED 06/20/11

TITLE OF BILL:
An act
to amend the election law, in relation to the typeface to be
used on paper ballots

PURPOSE:
To make paper ballots more usable by the voting public through
requirements that ballots use a simple and easy to read type, and be
designed with a view towards usability, and by requiring that the
State and New York City boards of elections, as well as those in the
largest counties, have a MI time employee on staff who is trained in
ballot design and usability.

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:
Section 1 of the bill amends election law section 7-106(2) to require
that paper ballots use simple and easy to read type style, and that
candidates names be printed in initial capital and lower case letters
of at least 12 point bold type. It further amends election law
section 7-106(2) to add a new subdivision 2a, which requires that the
New York State and New York City boards of elections, as well as
those in Erie, Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties have one full
time employee on staff who is fully trained in effective ballot
design and ballot usability. It also requires that such employee of
the state board of elections be available to advise the other
counties on the proposed design and usability of their ballots for
primary, general and special elections.

Section 2 of the bill establishes the effective date.

JUSTIFICATION:
Currently, election law section 7-106(2) does not contain any
requirements as to ballot readability or usability, and requires that
candidates' names appear in all capital bold type letters with no
minimum type size, all of which have made many ballots used in New
York City and elsewhere difficult for voters to read and use. With
the introduction of paper ballots statewide in 2010, this problem was
particularly acute. In fact, difficulty reading the ballot,
especially because of small type size, was the single most common
complaint following the 2010 general election.

The U.S. Election Assistance Commission's report on Effective Designs
of Federal Elections, June 2007, Section 3: Optical Scan Ballots, in
its best practices recommendations, includes the specific changes in
the
ballot requirements in this amendment to election law section 7-106(2).
This report is referred to favorably by the Brennan Center's 2008
report, entitled Better Ballots, which also includes the changes made
by this bill in its "Ballot Design Checklist".

These and other studies all stress the importance of ballot design and
usability, yet, despite their importance to the voters' ability to
successfully select their candidates and cast their ballots,
expertise in ballot design and usability is lacking within our boards
of elections. No additional hiring should be necessary to meet the
requirements for one full-time employee in the State board of
elections, and one in the boards of elections of each of Our largest
counties, to develop the necessary expertise in ballot design and
usability. In fact, such expertise can largely be developed through
self study of the extensive amount of literature in this field, along
with some training courses.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:
New bill.

FISCAL IMPACT ON THE STATE:
None.

EFFECTIVE DATE:
This act shall take effect on January 1, 2012.

view bill text
                    S T A T E   O F   N E W   Y O R K
________________________________________________________________________

                                 609--A

                       2011-2012 Regular Sessions

                            I N  S E N A T E

                               (PREFILED)

                             January 5, 2011
                               ___________

Introduced by Sens. ADDABBO, AVELLA, ESPAILLAT, HASSELL-THOMPSON, KRUEG-
  ER,  MONTGOMERY,  PERKINS,  SAMPSON, STAVISKY, STEWART-COUSINS -- read
  twice and ordered printed, and when printed to  be  committed  to  the
  Committee  on Elections -- committee discharged, bill amended, ordered
  reprinted as amended and recommitted to said committee

AN ACT to amend the election law, in relation to the typeface to be used
  on paper ballots

  THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND  ASSEM-
BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

  Section  1.  Subdivision  2  of  section  7-106 of the election law is
amended and a new subdivision 2-a is added to read as follows:
  2. All paper ballots of the same kind for the same polling place shall
be identical. A different, but in each case uniform style  and  size  of
SIMPLE  AND  EASY  TO READ type, SUCH AS ARIAL OR UNIVERS, shall be used
for printing the names of candidates, the titles of  offices,  political
designations, and the reading form of all questions submitted. The names
of candidates shall be printed in INITIAL capital FOLLOWED BY LOWER CASE
letters   [in   black-faced]   OF   NOT  LESS  THAN  TWELVE  POINT  BOLD
(BLACK-FACED) type.
  2-A. THE NEW YORK STATE, NEW YORK  CITY,  AND  THE  COUNTY  BOARDS  OF
ELECTIONS  FOR  THE  COUNTIES  OF  NASSAU, SUFFOLK, WESTCHESTER AND ERIE
SHALL AT ALL TIMES HAVE ONE FULL TIME EMPLOYEE ON  STAFF  WHO  IS  FULLY
TRAINED  IN  EFFECTIVE BALLOT DESIGN AND BALLOT USABILITY. SUCH EMPLOYEE
OF THE STATE BOARD SHALL BE AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST TO ADVISE  ALL  COUN-
TIES  ON  THE  PROPOSED  DESIGN  AND  USABILITY OF THEIR BALLOTS FOR ALL
PRIMARY, GENERAL AND SPECIAL ELECTIONS.
  S 2. This act shall take effect on the first of January next  succeed-
ing the date on which it shall have become a law.

 EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                      [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                           LBD06239-03-1

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