Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Bad Ballot Design Costs Taxpayers and Voters in Pierce County

The Pierce County Elections Department sent out ballots to voters this past weekend. Due to poor ballot design, voters received two ballot cards with much wasted space. Using two ballot cards drove up the expense of the fall general election by $600,000 in printing, postage and paper costs. It also drives up the return postage cost to voters from a regular stamp to "approximately" $0.61. This poor design appears to be politically motivated by Auditor Jan Shabro.

Shabro wants to repeal Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) and blames RCV for having to use two ballot cards. She then allocates all of the cost of going to two ballot cards to RCV.

Shabro was so intent on discrediting RCV that she designed a ballot with blank sides and empty columns. Meanwhile, she proposed other cost savings measures such as closing the polls and reducing the number of words her opponents received in the voters’ pamphlet. These measures provided a small fraction of the savings possible by better ballot design.

If her department had done a better job of designing the ballot, it would have fit all into one card. But then the Auditor would not have been able to complain about the cost of RCV. In fact, she would have been forced to admit that RCV saved money relative to the Top 2 in 2009.

Good ballot design and cost savings should come before political motivations.

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