LA County voters received this ballot in 1976 for the general election.
The Problem: The office title and voting instructions for the presidential race on this ballot were listed above the candidates’ names, whereas for the U.S. Senate race, the office title and voting instructions appeared to the left of the candidates’ names, where it was less likely to be noticed. Officials presented a ballot with inconsistent titles, layout and format. When voters look at a ballot, they must be able to identify separate voting tasks and differentiate between races and ballot measures. Designs that incorporate improper text formatting often induce voters to inadvertently skip races.
The Result: Not surprisingly, while the residual vote rate for president in Los Angeles County was relatively low at 4%, it was an astounding 17.2% for the Senate race, with 436,864 votes not counted. This loss of voters was larger than the statewide margin of victory for Republican Senate candidate S.I Hayakawa, who won by only 246,111 votes. In contrast to Los Angeles County, the residual vote rate for the Senate race in the rest of the state was just 4.1%.
Formatting has been standardized. Titles and directions now appear in the same place for each contest. Additionally, presidential, congressional and state contests now appear on separate pages to avoid confusion or induce voters to inadvertently skip races.