This article by Aliyya Swaby and Annie Waldman is published by ProPublica. Here is an excerpt:
Faye Combs used to enter the voting booth with trepidation. Unable to read until she was in her 40s, she would struggle to decipher the words on the ballot, intimidated by how quickly the people around her finished and departed. “When the election was over, I didn’t even realize what I had voted for because it was just so much reading,” she said.
Combs’ feelings of insecurity and disorientation when faced with a ballot are not unusual. Voters with low literacy skills are more likely to take what they read literally and act on each word, sometimes without considering context, literacy experts say. Distractions can more easily derail them, causing them to stop reading too soon.
“I’ve seen people try to read [the ballot] left to right and end up skipping entire contests,” said Kathryn Summers, a University of Baltimore professor who has spent decades studying how information can be made more accessible. She has found that voters who struggle to read are also more likely to make mistakes on their registration applications, such as writing their birth date incorrectly or forgetting to fill in the check box that indicates they are a citizen, either of which could lead to their vote being rejected.