Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Report of Findings: Use of Language in Ballot Instructions



Janice G. Redish, Dana Chisnell, Ethan Newby, Sharon J. Laskowski, Svetlana Z. Lowry


In this study, we compared two ballots that differed only in wording and presentation of the language on the ballots. For Ballot A, we used conventional wording and presentation, taken from typical ballots. For Ballot B, we used plain language wording and presentation.In a study of 45 voters in three geographic locations, we compared a ballot with traditional language instructions to a ballot with plain language instructions, we took both performance and preference data. Participants voted more accurately on the ballot with plain language instructions.
NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR) - 7556
Report Number


Plain Language, Voter Performance, Ballot Instructions, Usability.


Redish, J. , Chisnell, D. , Newby, E. , Laskowski, S. and Lowry, S. (2009), Report of Findings: Use of Language in Ballot Instructions, NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed June 25, 2024)


If you have any questions about this publication or are having problems accessing it, please contact

Created May 5, 2009, Updated October 12, 2021