I'm going to paraphrase Shreyas, because it's the end of the day and I'm lazy: "Haven't game competitions always included design as an implicit criteria?"
Well, on the one hand, no. In fact, IGC has explicitly said in the rules that design was not a factor. But as the judging has become more populist, design has become more of a de facto factor. And I dunno about the Ronnies. And the Reversed Engineering competition, which was what raised the question doesn't list design as a judging factor. Ergo, it's not a factor.
Right. And democracy is fair.
Well, to be honest, I'm not a (graphic) designer. It's not where I've invested skill points. My layouts are, I hope, like my handwriting: legible, and clear. End of list. And for games I've started to develop a CSS to do quick layout and not worry about it. I don't think I'm alone in this. I know that when I get to publishing one of my little monsters, I'll need to recruit someone to do for-reals layout, or start developing a new skill.
Honestly, I don't think it makes sense to call for a change, though. People are going to react to a good looking layout in a way that's very difficult to examine and control for. I'll just continue to make my layouts legible and clear, and put that much more effort into the games. Goodness knows, they can always use it.