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Ballot Redesign Focus Groups Final Report


To meet the objectives, a set of six focus groups and 11 in-person in-depth interviewsfootnote 2 was conducted with eligible electors (Canadian citizens aged 18 and older) from the following four categories:

  • The general population;
  • Persons with physical disabilities;
  • Persons with visual disabilities; and
  • Persons with cognitive disabilities.

The research was conducted in French in Montreal and in English in Toronto.

Research Specifications

In each city, one focus group was conducted with each of three audiences: the general public, persons with physical disabilities, and persons with visual disabilities. Groups lasted approximately 90 minutes. In each group, there was a mix by age, gender and education. Turnout was positive, with between seven and 10 participants attending each focus group session.

In addition to the focus groups, six in-person interviews were conducted with persons with cognitive disabilities in Montreal, and five interviews were conducted in Toronto. These interviews lasted approximately 45 minutes.

The research was conducted May 22-25, 2018. In total, 63 individuals participated in this research. Members of the general public were paid an honorarium of $100 and members of the disability groups each received an honorarium of $150.footnote 3 The recruitment screener use can be found in Annex 1, and a description of the characteristics of the research participants can be found in Annex 2.

The moderators for this study were Alethea Woods and Philippe Azzie. Alethea moderated the groups and conducted the interviews in Toronto, which were held in English. Philippe moderated the groups and conducted the interviews in Montreal, which were held in French. Both contributed to the final report.

Ballots Tested with Participants

Eight ballots were used to test different design elements. The table below shows the key design characteristics of the eight ballots. Images of the ballots can be found in Annex 3.

Table 1: Ballot Designs Tested
all CAPs
100 50 30 100 50 30 100 50 30
Ballot 1              
Ballot 2                
Ballot 3              
Ballot 4              
Ballot 5              
Ballot 6              
Ballot 7              
Ballot 8              

Procedure for Reviewing Ballots

In each focus group and interview, participants were asked to review each of the eight ballots identified in Table 1. The ballots were presented in two separate sets of four ballots. Ballots in Set 1 included ballots 1-4 and ballots in Set 2 included ballots 5-8. The main distinguishing feature between the two sets of ballots was that ballots in Set 1 contained dots and ballots in Set 2 contained dashes. The focus group and interview guides can be found in Annex 1.

The following procedure was followed for the presentation of ballots:

  • The order of the sets (dots: ballots 1-4; dashes: ballots 5-8) was rotated across focus groups and interviews so that one group/interview started by reviewing Set 1 and the subsequent group/interview started by reviewing Set 2.
  • For the first ballot reviewed in each group/interview (i.e., ballot 1 or ballot 5 depending on the set presented first), participants were asked to complete the ballot as though they were casting their vote. Specifically, they were given a folded ballot, asked to select one of the fictional candidates on the ballot by placing an X in the circle opposite the candidates' name, then asked to refold the ballot and place it in front of them.
  • Following discussion of the first ballot, participants were asked to review successively the three other ballots in each set. Participants with a visual disability were asked to complete each of these ballots by choosing a fictional candidate while other participants were asked simply to review these ballots without completing them.
  • After reviewing the ballots in the first set, participants were asked which version of the four designs made the ballot easiest to read and use – with a focus on the specific design characteristics that make up the ballots.
  • Following this, the same procedure was followed for the second set.footnote 4

Footnote 2 This research was qualitative in nature and, as such, the results provide an indication of participants' views about the issues explored, but they cannot be generalized to the full population of members of the general public and disability groups.

Footnote 3 The higher incentive amount for participants with disabilities acknowledges the possibility that these individuals may incur additional costs in order to attend the research sessions, such as transportation for themselves.

Footnote 4 The only difference in the review of ballots in the second set was that participants were asked to complete the first ballot in the set without folding it.