NY Times: North Carolina’s Butterfly Ballot

The New York Times has an editorial about North Caroline’s confusing straight ticket voting law today:

NY Times October 27, 2008 Editorial This Year’s Butterfly Ballot

In Florida’s “butterfly ballot” debacle of 2000, voters in Palm Beach County were so confused by the odd layout that many appear to have voted for the wrong candidate by mistake. At the time, there was a lot of talk about improving ballot design. Eight years later there are still far too many badly done ballots. North Carolina may have the country’s worst. It is already causing confusion with early voters. And if the presidential race is close, it could change the outcome.

Like a number of states, North Carolina allows its voters to choose a straight-party ticket. To do that, voters can mark one box and cast votes for all of the nominees of their preferred party. But North Carolina’s ballot has an unexpected twist. Even if a voter checks the straight-party box, he or she must vote separately for a presidential candidate.

…more at the link

Meanwhile, the State Board of Elections has responded to national concerns about NC’s straight ticket voting problem by sending an advisory to all 100 County Boards of Elections. The email was sent Wednesday, at 5 PM 10/22. (Forwarded to us today). The email urges all County Board of Elections to have poll workers give handouts about straight ticket voting to all voters showing up to vote. It is not clear that all counties are complying.

Is your County complying with this directive? Some are not. And the voters will suffer as a result. It is important that every single county, every single polling place – in early voting and on election day comply.

In North Carolina, straight ticket voting does not count for President. Many voters do not realize this and as a result, our state has one of the highestundervote rates for President in the US. In 2004 we lost 92000 votes for President, and in 2000 we lost 75,000 votes for President because of this counter-intuitive law. See NC Straight Ticket Confusion.

Below is the email sent to all counties, are they all complying?
From: Johnnie McLean [mailto:Johnnie.McLean@ncmail.net] Sent: Wednesday, October 22, 2008 5:07 PM
To: Directors.boe
Cc: ElectTechs.Sboe;

In order to ensure that all voters receive the information about President/Vice President being voted separately from all other offices you are directed to reproduce the following message (printed four to a page to be cut) and hand/mail to each voter when the ballot/voting equipment is assigned to the voter. Any color paper may be used to duplicate this information. This measure is in addition to the verbal instructions the pollworkers are to provide

****************************************************************************************************************NOTICE: E-mail correspondence to and from this address may be subject to the North Carolina Public Records Law and may be disclosed to third parties by an authorized state official.
E-mail correspondence to and from this address may be subject to the North Carolina Public Records Law and may be disclosed to third parties by anauthorized county official. If you have received this communication in error , please do not distribute it. Please notify the sender by E-mail at the address shown and delete the original message.



A “straight party” vote does not include the office of president or
any nonpartisan race or issue. You must vote for president/vice
president separately from the other offices. Nonpartisan offices
and issues also must be voted separately. More detailed instructions are
on your ballot. For paper ballots, be sure to turn the ballot over.


Background information

North Carolina Straight Ticket Confusion – Voting Straight Ticket in North Carolina does NOT include the Presidential contest. NC Coalition for Verified Voting 10/17/08

How Bad is North Carolina’s Ballot Flaw? The Numbers Say, Pretty Bad By Lawrence Norden & Margeret Chen, Brennan Center for Justice 10/21/08

It May Be Harder to Vote in Swing States By: David Rosenfeld Miller-McCune 10/22/08

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