NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF LEGISLATION submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
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
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 desig-
nating 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 distin-
guishable 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 candi-
date'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
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
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 require-
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 require-
ment 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
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
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 diffi-
cult to read. A post-election survey released by the New York City Coun-
cil 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 partic-
2011: A.7492A (Kavanagh) Election Law
FISCAL IMPACT ON THE STATE:
To be determined.
This act shall take effect immediately, and shall only apply to ballots
to be used for elections occurring after January 1, 2013.