New ballots easier for voters to read

The ballot for Douglas County voters will look different in the Nov. 4 general election.

But County Clerk Jamie Shew says the changes are not drastic and are necessary to help voters better read and understand the ballot.

“People find this far easier to read, clear to read, easier to use,” Shew said. “It doesn’t change. You still mark the ovals.”

Clerk’s office staffers tested the design changes on voters as they worked on it in recent months. Shew said he also took suggestions from national groups and other Kansas counties.

Voting instructions are now listed at the top across three columns instead of taking up much of the first column. Last month Shew was worried that the number of races, including three Lawrence sales tax questions, would require an extra page.

He didn’t want poll workers and voters to have to keep track of a second page on a day when 80 percent voter turnout is predicted. It also would have cost an extra $18,000 and likely taken away the ability to offer satellite advanced voting sites.

“I think it would have just caused confusion, and it’s already going to be a day where there’s going to be a lot of voters,” Shew said. “The least confusion was really what we’re going for.”

Even though it has a new design, the ballot is still basic. The clerk’s office added dark headings and gray shades to highlight the types of races.

In another change, the presidential and vice presidential candidates are only listed by last name, such as “Obama and Biden” or “McCain and Palin.” Shew said that is all that is required by state law and that other Kansas counties do the same.

Voting dates

The last day to register to be eligible to vote in the general election is Oct. 20. Advance voting begins Oct. 15.