Ballot Instructions, Day 2
October 22nd, 2010
The Board of Elections held an emergency meeting this afternoon to tell the city that the instructions on how to mark the ballot are perfectly clear and, if they aren’t, not to blame the board.
Yesterday the Brennan Center looked at a sample city ballot and discovered the instructions said to fill in the oval above or next to the preferred candidate’s name. Clear enough — except that the ovals are actually underneath the candidate’s names. (More on this below.)
At the meeting, board staff distributed a sample ballot to show how clear it is, since the bubble and the candidate’s name are within a clearly marked square. And they have a point: It is clear unless you read the instructions, which seem to contradict what most voters will see with their own eyes.
But actually there is no contradiction because, according to the board’s counsel, Steven Richman “next to” actually means “under.”
Richman and board executive director George Gonzalez said both the ballot design and the instructions comply with state law. In fact, Richman said, the legislature established the specific language last summer.
And itís accurate in much of the state where the bubbles are, apparently, above or next to the names. (Here’s one from Erie County.) But New York City has always had a different ballot design, with choices for a particular office running horizontally instead of vertically and so the bubbles appear differently.
No one on the board thought to ask Gonzelez whether anyone noticed the discrepancy between the ballot and the instructions for marking it.
Or , as Gonzalez might say, what discrepancy?
“I don’t see a problem at all,” he said “We are doing everything in accordance with the law.”By Gail Robinson on October 22, 2010, 4:32 pm
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