Elections are built on a foundation of forms. You know that the design of a form can make your work easier or more difficult.
And of course you want to get feedback from all of your audiences. One way to do that is to conduct surveys.
This Field Guide covers pointers on how to create forms and surveys that make it easy for people to give you the information you need.
Make sure the title of the form clearly reflects the purpose, from the voters’ perspective.
Give your form an active title
Register to vote
Find your polling place
If a form has two purposes, make this clear.
Register to vote
Update your voter registration
Vol.05.02: Treat all communication as conversation.
Use simple, active, easily understood words for field labels.
Write field labels so they don’t confuse people who are reading quickly, or who don’t read well.
I declare, affirm, and certify…
Print your name
Voter, sign here
I declare that…
The address where you receive mail
Vol.01.05: Use clear, simple language.
Give people a way to answer every question. They worry about leaving answers blank – even when it would be OK to do so.
Indicate required fields appropriately:
Online: mark required fields
On paper: mark optional fields
Vol.02.02: Put instructions where voters need them.
Forms that look well-organized are easier to fill in, and give voters more confidence.
Line things up with consistent spacing and margins.
Make the form easy to use with large enough text and good contrast.
Vol.01.03: Use big enough type.
Vol.01.04: Pick one sans-serif font.
Vol.01.09: Use contrast and color to support meaning.
Make fields big enough to fit the expected answer.
Use an appropriate format for fields showing the type of answer needed.
Online, use checkboxes instead of dropdowns when possible.
Simplify when you can.
Break the clauses in declarations and affidavits into separate bullets.
I HEREBY DECLARE THAT on the day of the next election I will have been a United States citizen for at least one month; will be at least 18 years of age; and am legally qualified to vote. I affirm that the information I have provided in this registration declaration is true. I understand that this registration declaration will be accepted for all purposes as the equivalent of an affidavit; and if the registration contains a materially false statement, I will be subject to penalties for perjury.
I declare that:
Using an X to mark the location for a signature helps people get it right.
Start with anything the voter needs to do to prepare.
Put instructions, hints, and warnings before the field, not after.
Online, list errors at the top of the page, and highlight the location in the form.
Vol. 02.03: Include information that will prevent voters from making errors.
Vol. 04.06: Put warnings before — not after — consequences.
Put the information at the end of the form, where voters will see it when they are finished filling in their information.
Vol. 01.05: Support process and navigation.
Usability testing for forms includes watching to see if voters can provide all the information needed without help. Make sure voters can:
Vol. 03: Testing ballots for usability