Voter guides: Tips for plain language

We know that clear writing in plain language helps voters understand elections. Several of the Field Guides to Ensuring Voter Intent cover plain language topics. Good places to start include:


This page includes answers to some questions that have come up as we worked on the voter guide templates.

When should the full date be used, and when is it OK to use just the month and day?

It’s a balance between simple/uncluttered and complete based on context:

  • Simple:   February 8
  • Complete and accurate:  February 8, 2016

We recommend:

  • The date of the election on the front cover and the footer on all the pages should include the full date, with the year, so that the context of the booklet is clear:
    General Election
    Tuesday, November 4, 2014
  • Inside, just the simple Month Day format is enough. Examples include dates and deadlines within the current election:
    Request a vote-by-mail ballot by October 28
  • On other materials such as envelopes or postcard notices, the election type and year should be somewhere on the page – either in a heading, footer, or first reference.
    Your ballot for the General Election must be postmarked by November 4, 2014  

Should the voters be “You” or “I”

In most cases, “you” works better, and keeps the perspectives straight: “We” are the elections office, talking to “you,” the voter.

Sometimes, especially on interactive media like the web, it’s OK to put the voter into the first person. For example, some web sites have pages for different types of voters with a menu that uses “I,” like this:

I am… a voter with a disability… a military or overseas voter…