Ballot paper design: evidence from an experimental study at the 2009 local elections
Taylor & Francis Group
The overriding principle of ballot design is that it should not confer any a priori advantage to one candidate over another. Ballot format should not determine or condition an election outcome. Yet, there is a sizeable body of evidence which demonstrates that in many circumstances the design of ballot papers and voting machines contravenes the normative assumption of electoral neutrality. In this article, we look at the impact of ballot paper design at local elections in the Republic of Ireland (hereafter Ireland). The article uses data from an experimental election study conducted at the local elections in Ireland in 2009. Overall the study finds some evidence of a primacy effect and it also demonstrates that candidates located in the middle of the ballot face a challenge as they receive the lowest vote shares of all candidates across the four replica ballots. This mid-table obscurity remains even when party affiliation is known. Thus, it can be argued that candidates placed in such positions incur a disadvantage. To neutralise this effect, the article concludes with a recommendation that a system of random ordering of ballot positions across ballot papers should be implemented so as to ensure that each candidate appears at each ballot position on an equal number of times.
Ballot paper design , Ballot position , Irish elections , PR-STV
Reidy, T. and Buckley, F. (2015) ‘Ballot paper design: evidence from an experimental study at the 2009 local elections’, Irish Political Studies, 30(4), pp. 619-640. doi: 10.1080/07907184.2015.1100802
© 2015, Political Studies Association of Ireland. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Reidy, T. and Buckley, F. (2015) ‘Ballot paper design: evidence from an experimental study at the 2009 local elections’, Irish Political Studies, 30(4), pp. 619-640, doi: 10.1080/07907184.2015.1100802, which has been published in final form at https://doi.org/10.1080/07907184.2015.1100802. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions.