07/29/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Poor Ballot Design Could Play Big Role In Election

Poorly designed ballots continue to plague U.S. elections, even after Congress set aside $3 billion to overhaul voting systems to prevent a recurrence of the flawed Florida ballots that deadlocked the 2000 presidential race, a study out today concludes.

Problems with confusing paper ballots in 2002, absentee ballots in 2004 and touch-screen ballots in 2006 led thousands of voters to skip over key races or make mistakes that invalidated their votes, according to the study by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law.

"In the big election meltdowns ... where thousands of votes were lost, ballot design was the primary cause," says Lawrence Norden of the Brennan Center.

Ballot designs could play a big role in mistakes made at the polls this fall because of an infusion of new voters who registered for this year's presidential race and the introduction of new voting machines in parts of 11 states with 15 million potential voters. Since passage of the Help America Vote Act in 2002, states have spent more than $2 billion in mostly federal funds to overhaul their voting systems.

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