Ballot Bins: Yay or Nay?

A blogpost written by: Ákos Indig, Cheuk Chi Tam & Vagif Huseynov


As group 3, we tried thinking of ways to improve the neighborhoods within Waalwijk. As  preached in our lectures, happiness, and well-being were our main focus areas, as we believe  those are the driving factors behind sustainability and long-term residential happiness. A  specific neighborhood with a particular emphasis on social engagement instantly caught our  attention: Bloemenoord. Being one of the many neighborhoods found within the municipality,  Bloemenoord at first glance did not seem like an area that should have garnered our interest.  However, upon closer inspection, we could see how this residential area filled with middle income families was more interesting than expected. Although filled with schools, community  centers, grocery stores, and basic utilities, the neighborhood still lacked in certain aspects  statistically when compared to those of Waalwijk, namely “Nuisance, Vandalism, and  Contribution to Livability.” As a result of a neighborhood survey done by municipality officials, 

It was discovered that the main problem behind the either low or no contributions was the lack  of opportunities provided to the residents. To tackle this, we tried to adopt some international  practices into Bloemenoord in the hopes that a new opening for interaction between residents  and the neighborhood and residents could be formed. As a result, we decided to write a policy  intervention on ballot bins.

Mechanism Explanation

Ballot bins are types of receptacles that have two primary focuses: collecting cigarette ash and  butts while serving as a ballot box for data collection. They are mainly designed to encourage  residents to dispose of their cigarette buds, or similar waste, whilst also allowing them to  participate in a local survey or voting process. The functionality of the ashtray ballot comes  with the existence of different compartments, wherein the waste can later be collected and  counted by local authorities or event organizers to make decisions that residents participated  in. The idea is to evenly distribute ballot bins throughout Bloemnoord in a bid to provide the  neighborhood with more chances to vote and partake in municipality-related decision-making.  As a result, Bloemenoord and Waalwijk in general can benefit from the promotion of civic  engagement and encouragement of people to participate in the democratic process while also  reducing the amount of cigarette litter in public areas.

Desired Outcomes

Throughout this policy intervention, the sought-out outcome is the elevation of happiness and  well-being as a direct result of decreases in nuisance and vandalism. Furthermore, increases in  residents’ contribution to livability and decision-making are also strived for, as that will lead  to smoother and more efficient implementations. In addition to helping in coming up with the  optimal distribution of resources, residential involvement can also help with the creation of  support for the policies (Rifkin, 2014). With that support, come a myriad of benefits in the  forms of better resident and regulator collaboration, increased interaction between neighbors  and inhabitants, and a more collectivist environment, which paves the way for a more amicable  community.

Challenges & Opportunities

The main obstacle that needs to be overcome during the implementation phase is making sure  of the presence of awareness and ensuring the usability of ballot bins. The main way that can  be done is through the utilization of social media, community newsletters, and flyers in a bid  to better introduce the concept and make sure that the residents are aware of its functionality  (Stern, 1999). In addition to that, making sure that no tampering is done with the ballot bin is  also a preliminary concern, as users may dispose of more than one cigarette bud in a day,  resulting in them having voted more than once and thus interfering with the validity of data  collection. If that were to take place, then one of two purposes of ballot bin implementation,  surveying, would lose its value.

For the aforementioned issues to be tackled, two steps have to be taken: an apt introduction and  on point explanation. In order for ballot bins to be taken seriously and to ensure good reception,  the concept as a whole needs to be introduced correctly. Since ballot bins have not been used  in the neighborhood and municipality before, the residents may struggle at first with adapting  to their presence. To ease their transition, government officials should make sure that the  prominence of ballot bins is understood.

Finally, vandalization and deliberate damage to ballot bins is a likely scenario, wherein the  expenses incurred by the municipality may end up yielding no return. To avoid all these risks,  the implementation and application of ballot bins have to be treated proactively, with the  necessary introduction and monitoring being done on a frequent basis.


To sum up, ballot bins are a viable solution to nuisance, vandalism, and low contributions to  the livability of the neighborhood, which are dimensions where Bloemenoord scored lower  than the average of Waalwijk. Through the even distribution of ballot bins in public spaces of  the neighborhood, the municipality provides more opportunities for the residents to partake in  decision-making. In addition, ballot bins are a good method of data collection, littering  reduction, and community involvement, all of which can eventually pave the way to a happier,  more sustainable, and better-off environment.

The infographic of the blogpost

Reference list

Ballotbin. (n.d.). About Ballotbin. Retrieved April 14, 2023, from

Rifkin, S. B. (2014). Examining the links between community participation and health outcomes: A review of the literature. Health Policy and Planning, 29(suppl 2), ii98ii106.

Stern, P. C. (1999). Information, Incentives, and Proenvironmental Consumer Behavior.  Journal of Consumer Policy, 22(4), 461–478.

Share This Post