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RE: Ballot layout

From: Greg Forsythe [mailto:gfglobal@earthlink.net]
Assuming a three race ballot
Option to layout races in rows.  Specify the race width 10 blocks, one block separating the middle race on either side.
Rational;  99% of Canadian election races are Mayor, Councillor and School Trustee.  Currently, these races are 10 blocks wide and in column.  If a second column is created it becomes 11 blocks wide.  Every ballot has to be manually relocated in a row, reduced (when necessary) to 10 blocks with a blank space on either side of the centre race.
I would have sent this to RCR, but perhaps the facility is already there. 

Appreciate your comments. 
Greg Forsythe
No, its not already there.  Your proposal, though, introduces a fixed quarter-inch unit width to races.  GEMS doesn't fix the size of its drawing elements -- elements flow like paragraphs in a document.
What you are looking for is the ability to customize the columns.  Instead of just specifying how many columns a ballot has, you would specify the start and extent of each column.  The internal data structure for this has actually been in place to do this since GEMS 0.1, but has never been used.  I even think this is a VTS feature.  It has been on the TODO list for too long to remember.
The problem is that a decent user interface would involve a cool looking ruler with stipples that you could drag around to adjust the columns.  That would be a custom control involving a lot of work.  It has never been deemed worth it.  Put in your words, 99% of Canadian elections have three race or less ballots, which means they should take less than half an hour to lay out by hand.  There is also no statutory reason not to lay out these three race ballots one race atop another, or beside without the quarter inch gap.  In short, I doubt those accounts could justify the cost of development of the feature.  Larger accounts that could justify it have bigger problems than tweaking individual columns by a quarter inch.  I would certainly enjoy finding an account willing to fund this though.  I have wanted this feature since I designed the column structures.
As a final note, you can approximate the effect you are looking for by using the "box margins" ballot option.  That means however you have to eat another quarter inch channel, and get 10, 10, 9 channel columns.  The box margin feature however appears broken now that I try it, since 1.15.1 I suspect.  I'll look into that if you want.  As you can see, this stuff just isn't used.