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A07492 Memo:

BILL NUMBER:A7492D

TITLE OF BILL:
An act
to amend the election law, in relation to enacting the voter friendly
ballot act of 2012; and to
repeal section 7-126 of such law relating to the form of ballots

PURPOSE:
To create a ballot layout that is easy for voters to read and
use.

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:
Section 7-104 of the election law is amended in the following ways:

o Subsection one requires use of sans serif type.

o Subsection three exempts the city of New York from affixing a
designating letter and number on ballots for primary elections.

o Subsection seven is removed which specified that each row on the
ballot have an image with a closed fist and extended finger and
include the party emblem.

Section 7-106 of the election law is amended in the following ways:

o Subsection one specifies that paper ballots shall be clearly
distinguishable from sample ballots by size, color, or other means.

o Subsection two is added to require the State Board of Elections to
publish and distribute a master template ballot to the counties
before each statewide election.

o Subsection six sets forth the requirements for instructions on a
ballot by specifying that the oval or square to the left of the
candidate's name shall be marked by the voter; depending on the
voting system used by counties, the oval or square to the left of the
"write-in" section shall be marked if a voter wishes to cast a vote
for a write-in candidate; by informing voters that they do not have
to vote in every contest; and if the voter makes a mistake, 'or wants
to change their vote, to ask a poll worker for a new ballot.

o Subsection seven requires line drawing illustrations to supplement
these instructions.

o Subsection eight sets forth the specifications for instructions when
voting for questions and proposals, instructing the voter to mark the
oval or square to the left of the voter's choice.

o Subsection ten sets forth other specifications for the ballot to be
used to the extent practicable including, titles of offices and names
of candidates being printed flush left in each column; the voting
oval or square be placed to the left of the candidate's name; use of
standard capitalization; use of a font size of not less than twelve
points - or one sixth of an inch for the names of candidates; or font
family, on the ballot; delineation between the ballot instructions


and the first office or ballot question or proposal; consistent use
of shading; if more than one candidate is to be elected in any race
on the ballot, then "Vote for up to X" (providing the maximum number
of candidates to be elected) shall be printed immediately below each
office title appearing on the ballot; under or to the right of the
name of each candidate shall be printed, in less prominent type face
than that in which the candidate's name is printed, the name of the
political party by which the candidate was nominated or certified; no
party emblems shall be printed under or after the candidate's name
that is printed on the ballot; and the names of candidates to the
same office shall appear on the same page and in the same column of
that page of a printed ballot, unless no alternative is possible.

Section 7-114 is amended in the following ways:

o The title or section is changed from "Ballots; form for primary
elections" to "Ballots; form for primary elections, additional
requirements"

o Subsection two is amended to allow two or more candidates running to
be elected to a party position as a group to be referred to
collectively on the ballot as a "group" in the City of New York.

Section 7-118 of the election law is amended in the following ways:

o Subsection one requires sample ballots to be distinguishable from
the ballot by size, color, or other means.

o Subsection three allows the boards of elections to publish a sample
ballot online instead of mailing a sample ballot to every eligible
voter at least three days before the election.

o Subsection four allows the boards of elections to satisfy the
requirement of sending a sample ballot to all high schools in the
city of New York by publishing such sample ballot on a website
maintained by the boards of elections.

Section 7-122 of the election law is amended in the following ways:

o The instructions are simplified and should comply with the same
requirements set forth in section 7-106.

o Subsection four mandates that there shall be three envelopes for
each absentee ballot issued by mail: the inner affirmation envelope
for the ballot, outer envelope addressed to voter, and mailing
envelope addressed to county boards of elections.

Section 7-123 of the election law is amended in the following way:

o Subsection three mandates that there shall be three envelopes for
each military absentee ballot issued by mail: the inner affirmation
envelope for the ballot, outer envelope addressed to voter, and
mailing envelope addressed to county boards of elections.

Section 7-124 of the election law is amended in the following way:


o Subsection two mandates that there shall be three envelopes for each
special federal absentee ballot issued by mail: the inner affirmation
envelope for the ballot, outer envelope addressed to voter, and
mailing envelope addressed to county boards of elections.

Section 7-126 of the election law is repealed.

Section 7-128 of the election law is amended in the following ways:

o Subsection one is amended expand the time public for inspection of
sample official ballots to 28 days, rather than the current five days
and to expand the time for inspection of official ballots to 14 days,
rather than the current four day requirement.

o Subsection two is amended to expand the time for candidates on a
ballot to inspect the ballot to 14 days rather than the current two
day requirement.

Section 7-130 of the election law is amended in the following way:

o Removes the requirement that party emblems shall be contained on the
ballot labels for ballots to be examined by voters prior to the
election.

JUSTIFICATION:
A ballot that is clear and simple to read makes voting easier and
leads to more accurate voting. In the 2010 primary and general
elections, New York voters were confronted with a ballot that was
cluttered and difficult to read. A post-election survey released by
the New York City Council found that ballot design was among the top
complaints of voters with approximately 1 in 3 voters reporting that
the ballot was difficult to read or
confusing. According to a report drafted by the New York City Board
of Elections, at a City Council Committee Meeting held on October
4, 2010, speakers from several public advocacy groups stated that the
font size used on the ballots was too small. This was exemplified by
the fact that polling sites provided magnifying glasses for voters.

The Voter Friendly Ballot Act will provide a remedy for New York's
hard to read ballot by setting forth specifications that will create
a ballot layout that is straightforward. At the same time it provides
Boards of Election with the flexibility to ensure good ballot design,
regardless of the particular limits of their voting technology, or
the number of contests and candidates that must be placed on the
ballot in any particular election.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:
2011: A.7492A (Kavanagh) Election Law

FISCAL IMPACT ON THE STATE:
To be determined.

EFFECTIVE DATE:
This act shall take effect immediately, and shall only
apply to ballots to be used for elections occurring after January 1,
2013.

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