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Ballot Redesign Focus Groups Final Report

Introduction

Elections Canada (EC) is modernizing the production and printing of the ballot for operational reasons. The Agency is using this modernization process as an opportunity to consider design changes that improve the accessibility of the ballot. As a result, EC commissioned Phoenix SPI to conduct qualitative research in support of these efforts.

All design changes being considered conform to the Canada Elections Act and maintain current security features. Changes being considered for the next federal general election are:

  • Ballots that are two inches wider and larger font for the candidate and political party name;
  • Use of dashes rather than dots;
  • Different degrees of shading; and
  • Use of capitals only for candidate surnames.

Qualitative public opinion research was conducted to explore the impacts that the various changes may have on electors – including those with visual, physical and cognitive disabilities. The specific objective of this research was to gather opinions on the ease of handling, clarity and readability of the ballots as follows:

  • Ease of handling: Ballots that are two inches wider might cause problems for some electors while handling and casting a vote, such as while trying to fold the ballot in the prescribed manner.
  • Clarity: Changes to the ballot may make it difficult for some electors to understand how to cast their votes correctly, such as lighter dots not adequately filling in white space beside a candidate's name.
  • Readability: Changes to the ballot may make it difficult for some electors to read names of candidates and political parties correctly, such as a distracting contrast in colour when masking and dots are lightened.

The Agency intends to use the research findings to choose a ballot design for future electoral events that supports the accessibility of voting for Canadian electors, including those with physical, visual and cognitive disabilities. The Agency would like to pilot test the new ballot during a fall 2018 by-election.