Working in partnership with local disability organizations and national
election commissions, IFES has developed Ballot Templates (also known
as Tactile Ballots) for use by blind and visually impaired voters. These
templates help ensure that voters are able to vote independently and in
Pictured above, the
ballot template works as follows:
The blind voter casts their vote on the actual ballot;
The ballot is inserted in a folder by an election official.
The folder is the same size as the ballot;
Holes are cut in the folder to correspond precisely to the boxes
on the ballot where the voter places his/her thumb print;
Raised dots are placed on the folder next to each hole, indicating
the vertical position of the hole. For example, one dot is placed next
to the top hole; two dots next to the second hole from the top; and so
The top right hand corner of ALL ballots is cut away. By feeling
this cut away piece, and by feeling the perforated edge on the left side
of the ballot, the blind voter can independently determine that the ballot
is correctly inserted in the folder. All ballots are cut in this manner
so as to ensure the secrecy of the ballot cast by the blind voter. The
ballots will be cut during production, and not at the polling site.
Written instructions on the use of the ballot will be available
at every polling station, to be read to the voter by the presiding officer.
The tactile ballot
pictured below was used in Sierra Leone's 2002 Presidential Election.
The idea of tactile
ballots has also been used in other elections worldwide. Below are pictures
of three other types of ballot templates, from (left to right) Canada,
Peru and the US State of Rhode Island.