Looking good on paper: a qualitative study of ballot paper design and political party identification in South Africa

OUTPUT TYPE: Research report- client
PUBLICATION YEAR: 2019
TITLE AUTHOR(S): G.Houston, J.Struwig, B.J.Roberts, S.L.Gordon, Y.D.Davids, S.Mtyingizane, N.Mchunu, T.Radebe, M.Ngungu, G.Maluleke, G.Fokou, V.Archary, N.Bohler-Muller
KEYWORDS: BALLOT PAPER, ELECTIONS, VOTING PROCEDURES
DEPARTMENT: Democracy, Governance and Service Delivery (DGSD)
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 10878

If you would like to obtain a copy of this Research Output, please contact Hanlie Baudin at researchoutputs@hsrc.ac.za.

Abstract

The Electoral Commission of South Africa commissioned the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) to review the ballot paper used in national and provincial elections as well as local government elections in South Africa. The ballot paper represents a critical material component of the electoral process, and its design is instrumental to the success of any election. The report is entitled the "Ballot Paper Design and Political Party Identification Study". The aim of the review was to assess the usability of ballot papers used in elections in the country. This was undertaken as a means of identifying potential areas of voter difficulty and generating insight into whether certain ballot design options might better enable voters to accurately register their choice in a clear and simple manner. The objective of the study was, therefore, to determine the general public views on the design features of the ballot paper that include: (i) the sequencing (ranking) of parties on the ballot; (ii) potential confusion arising from similar political party identifiers on the ballot paper; (iii) the sequencing of party identifiers in terms of the preferred order of presenting the party name, logo, acronym and photograph of political party leader; (iv) the numbering of parties on the ballot; and (v) the length of the ballot paper.