Voter guide pages: Practice ballot

A copy of the ballot the voter will use

Lessons from the research

New voters, voters who don’t read well, and voters who don’t read English well all worried about making mistakes, but did not understand that they could use the “sample ballot” to prepare and practice.

The problem was that they didn’t understand “sample” to mean “a copy of the ballot you will use to vote” and they were not sure that it was the exact ballot. This mattered to people who don’t read well because one strategy they used was to memorize the position of the contests they cared about. Or to trust that they could copy their practice marks without having to read the words.

That’s why we recommend calling it the “practice ballot.”


About the template

There are several different ways a copy of the ballot can be added to the voter guide:

  • Reduced in size and inserted on the page in normal reading orientation. This solution only works when the ballot is small enough to still be readable.
  • Full size, turned sideways and spread across two pages.
  • Full size, and simply inserted into the middle of the guide or added to the package of materials.

However you do it:

Title the page “Practice ballot” (unless there is a legal requirement for different words).

Add instructions that say:

“Use this sample ballot to practice marking your choices and bring it to the polling place.”

or, if you have enough space:

“Review this sample ballot to get ready to vote at the polling place. Mark it as practice and take it with you. (This is not a real ballot, but it has all of the things you can vote on.)”

Place the practice ballot in the guide so that they are the last pages. This makes them easy to find and doesn’t interrupt the other informational pages. Arrange the pages so that the front and back of the ballot are the front and back of the same page. This makes it easy for voters to tear out the page and bring it with them to the polling place.

The other layout option is to put the ballot in the middle of the guide. This is a good location in bilingual guides with the same number of pages in both languages.  The ballot can be on pages of the guide, or can simple be added sheets inserted into the center of the guide. This makes it possible for the sample ballot to be on colored paper, so it looks different from a real ballot. This layout also that the ballot can be on one sheet of paper.

Word (and Acrobat) tips

Work with your printer and ballot designer to decide how to add the page title and instructions to the ballot pages so that the ballot can be accessible.


Tips for accessibility
Tips for working in Word

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