Ranked voting ballot design

As I was going for my daily walk this morning I was thinking about options on how to design ballots for ranked voting elections, and I thought of several ways to do it.

  1. Write a number next to the candidate’s name.
  2. N – 1 bubbles next to the candidate’s name where n is the number of candidates
  3. Binary bubbles
  4. Roman numeral numbers
  5. Print the ballot from a computer
  6. Use a computer voting system

There are problems with each of these systems. People can’t write very well, so designing ballots with written numbers means you will need to rely on neural networks which never have 100% accuracy to read how they are voting.

Having a number of bubbles next to the candidate’s name can be relatively overwhelming and you run the risk of people putting two candidates in the same column.

Name 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
John F. Kennedy O O O O O O O O O O
Lyndon B. Johnson O O O O O O O O O O
Richard Nixon O O O O O O O O O O
Jimmy Carter O O O O O O O O O O
Ronald Reagan O O O O O O O O O O
George H. W. Bush O O O O O O O O O O
Bill Clinton O O O O O O O O O O
Al Gore O O O O O O O O O O
George W. Bush O O O O O O O O O O
Barack Obama O O O O O O O O O O
Hillary R. Clinton O O O O O O O O O O

A little overwhelming for a race with a lot of candidates.

The next option uses Binary bubbles

Name 1 2 4 8
John F. Kennedy O O O O
Lyndon B. Johnson O O O O
Richard Nixon O O O O
Jimmy Carter O O O O
Ronald Reagan O O O O
George H. W. Bush O O O O
Bill Clinton O O O O
Al Gore O O O O
George W. Bush O O O O
Barack Obama O O O O
Hillary R. Clinton O O O O

My Math brain appreciates this a lot, but I am concerned that a lot of people might not understand binary.

My best friend had the idea of using Roman Numerals:

Name I V I I I I
John F. Kennedy O O O O O O
Lyndon B. Johnson O O O O O O
Richard Nixon O O O O O O
Jimmy Carter O O O O O O
Ronald Reagan O O O O O O
George H. W. Bush O O O O O O
Bill Clinton O O O O O O
Al Gore O O O O O O
George W. Bush O O O O O O
Barack Obama O O O O O O
Hillary R. Clinton O O O O O O

As someone with a passion for history, I appreciate this ballot. It is closer to binary in terms of the number of numerals, but also is a system which most people learned in elementary school. It isn’t that binary numerals are that difficult, but I don’t know how many people understand how they work in real life.

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