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Riverside County voters express concerns over ‘poor ballot design’ ahead of March primary

There are some concerns about ballots in Riverside County, some viewers have contacted our newsroom saying they're difficult to read and consider them a "poor ballot design" ahead of the March primary. 

One of the biggest concerns of the ballots pertains to the fill-in bubble where voters would mark their choice. Many people say the border of that bubble is faint making it difficult to see. 

We heard from a Low Visual Therapist who agrees the ballots and the Voter's Guide can pose some difficulties for voters with visual impairments. 

"For somebody to decide to put a very pale pink oval where we register our vote, the important vote, was a gross mistake," said Palm Springs resident, Jeannette Dreisbach.

Several voters including Dreisbach are running into the same problem while attempting to fill in this year’s ballot. 

Robert J. Riso also emailed our newsroom with his concerns saying he was, "Shocked to see that they were so badly designed as to be nearly unusable for people without extremely good vision.”

I asked Katie Scheuring, a Low Vision Occupational Therapist with the Braille Institute, if this year's ballot could make voting difficult for people that have trouble with their vision.

"I would say most definitely, the ballot is more difficult to see because of the fainter lines for the oval," said Scheuring. "And of course the Voter Information Guide is very small print."

Scheuring says a different print could have worked better for voters, instead of the faint red ovals. 

"Sometimes something more traditional with like a big bolded oval shaped or thicker lines just does the job perfectly," said Scheuring.

The County of Riverside Registrar of Voters shared this statement in regards to recent ballot complaints.

They said in part, "We want to reassure the public that the vote-by-mail ballots have ovals within the same line as the candidate’s name."

They also added, "The registrar of voters office is committed to accurate selections for every registered voter and will promptly issue a new ballot, if needed."

Unlike the Official Voters Guide, ballots are not offered in larger text.

Scheuring shared the following tips to help voters cast their votes. 

"Make sure that you're going to complete the ballot in a room with ample lighting," said Scheuring.

She also suggests to use tools to help with reading fine lines.

"If you have bifocals that you normally wear, we call them cheaters or reading glasses, you might have to put those on. If you have a magnifier nearby, a lot of people with low vision will rely on magnifiers," added Scheuring.

Voters like Dreisbach are ultimately concerned that the fine print could have a bold impact on this year’s race. 

"It's the presidential year. There are big decisions to be made…and I think all of us have an obligation including the registrar in particular, to make it easy to vote," said Dreisbach.

We've heard from voters with non-party ballots that are also having difficulty casting their votes. 

Like you see below, the senate race has columns that are faint, the candidates names are also crowded making it easy to vote for the wrong person, and voters complain that the ovals are also hard to see. 

For assistance on getting a new ballot you can contact the County of Riverside Registrar of Voters for direct assistance, by calling their office at 951-486-7200.

You can also visit the Secretary of State's webpage HERE to order an Official Voter Information Guide in large print for better viewing.

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Bianca Ventura

Bianca Ventura joined KESQ News Channel 3 as a reporter in February 2022.


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