NYC Voter’s Guide

The New York City Campaign Finance Board sends out a voter guide in advance of every election, and after I get it in the mail, I usually put it on a table and tell myself a little white lie about how I’ll read it well before the polls open on Election Day. But I never do, partly because, in the past, those guides have been dryly designed and uninviting — they don’t exactly promise a page-turning experience.

For this year’s primary (coming up on 13 Sep), the board tried something different — actually injecting a bit of engagement into the design. You can get a sense of the look at the NYCCB’s new approach at the Web site, which isn’t a bad representation of the printed guide at all, but it pretty much just looks like a regular Web site.

Below: The NYC Campaign Finance Board makes this year’s voter’s guide something you’d actually want to read.

Big and Beautiful

To really see the new thinking in effect, you need to get your hands on the printed piece: it’s an unexpectedly inviting, tabloid-sized, full-color affair. It looks more like some kind of catalog for an expensive collegiate program than a voter’s guide, surely. And while not a ground-breaking specimen of graphic design, it’s still shockingly bold for its context, with huge, silhouetted images and relatively adventurous typography. I guess the highest compliment I can pay to the designers is that it actually made me sit down and page through it, and then actually read it.

NYCCFB Voter’s Guide

This guide is actually a great example of how design can have a positive and material impact in substantial arenas of real life — there’s a marked difference in not just the visual appeal but also the fundamental usefulness of the content of this year’s voter guide. I have to hand it to the NYCCFB; this is probably the most meaningful bit of design I’ve seen all year long.