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Re: Ovals positioned back to back on ballots.

If you know someone with experience, give them a call.
Felt tip pens appear to be the best marking instrument for filling in the voting ovals with the least effort.  Felt tip pens can be water based or alcohol base.  Water based don't bleed as much as alcohol based but in higher humidity conditions, water based doesn't dry as fast as alcohol based.  So either may be used.  Greg Forsythe tried the Sanford Espresso's a while back, which were an alcohol base that didn't bleed as much, but I believe there was a problem with the pens drying out too quickly.
As well, there is usually no control over what gets used to mark absentee ballots.  One of the visible light unit features is the ability to scan a dark mark made by a pen, pencil, felt pen or whatever the voter uses.
Would it be that difficult to program restrictions into the ballot layout program to exclude this situation rather than leaving another potential problem area for the ballot layout programmer to catch?

Usually ballots are 1, 2, 3, or 4 columns.  Looking "through" the paper, a left justified oval on the front will be on the "right" of that column on the back.  You have to use mixed columns or multi-column candidates for ovals to match back-to-back.

If you are worried about matched ovals, choose layout options that make matching impossible.

Having said that, I find it hard to believe that for visible-light readers we can't find a writing instrument that:

  • Does not bleed through
  • Dries fast
  • Is cheap

Should we hire an office supply consultant perhaps? :-/