Imagine that you have to design the ballots and voting materials for an election that serves a population of over a billion (1,189,172,906) citizens who speak multiple languages, while the literacy rate is only about 75%.
On May 16th, 2009, the Election Commission of India announced the results of its month-long India-wide election for their lower house of Parliament – the largest democratic election in the world. An estimated 714 million voters (from a population of 1.2 billion) were eligible to cast their vote in one of five separate phases at over 800,000 polling stations. Logistically difficult, massive in scale, and opposed by various rebel groups, separatists and protestors, the elections still managed to be held with minimal disruption, with an average voter turnout of greater than 56%.
This election made use of symbols to represent the candidates. This gives all eligible voters in the country, even if they are illiterate a fair chance to vote. Above is an example of an election ballot and below that is a sampling of the symbols used on the ballots.