By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law
The order of candidates on ballots is determined by a random drawing done by the California Secretary of State’s Office. The drawing for the November elections statewide was done on August 18, 2011. The drawing determines who goes first, by surname, which continues if people have similar surnames, like Reiter and Reid.
Why does it matter? It takes any politics out of the order of candidates. Why does that matter? Because of a phenomenon called the primacy effect or ballot order effect. The Secretary of State’s website claims: this “procedure was established by legislation passed in 1975 in response to court rulings declaring that standard alphabetical order or incumbent-first was unconstitutional since there is a 5% positional bias among undecided voters.” The ruling that the Secretary of State’s website is referring to is Gould v. Grubb (1975) 14 Cal.3d 661. The court found that “incumbent-first” and alphabetical order violated the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution’s equal protection clause.
The order of the randomized draw for this election is:
1. F. 2. Q 3. Y 4. K 5.O 6. C 7. H 8. U 9. T 10. G 11. B 12. I 13. S 14. A 15. V 16. W 17. E 18. X 19. L 20. Z 21. N 22. J 23. R 24. M 25. D 26. P.
This drawing is done pursuant to California Elections Code section 13112 which reads, in pertinent part:
13112. The Secretary of State shall conduct a drawing of the letters of the alphabet, the result of which shall be known as a randomized alphabet. The procedure shall be as follows:
(a) Each letter of the alphabet shall be written on a separate slip of paper, each of which shall be folded and inserted into a capsule. Each capsule shall be opaque and of uniform weight, color, size, shape, and texture. The capsules shall be placed in a container, which shall be shaken vigorously in order to mix the capsules thoroughly. The container then shall be opened and the capsules removed at random one at a time. As each is removed, it shall be opened and the letter on the slip of paper read aloud and written down. The resulting random order of letters constitutes the randomized alphabet, which is to be used in the same manner as the conventional alphabet in determining the order of all candidates in all elections. For example, if two candidates with the surnames Campbell and Carlson are running for the same office, their order on the ballot will depend on the order in which the letters M and R were drawn in the randomized alphabet drawing.
(b) (1) There shall be six drawings, three in each even-numbered year and three in each odd-numbered year. Each drawing shall be held at 11 a.m. on the date specified in this subdivision. The results of each drawing shall be mailed immediately to each county elections official responsible for conducting an election to which the drawing is applicable, who shall use it in determining the order on the ballot of the names of the candidates for office.
. . .
(F) The sixth drawing under this subdivision shall take place on the 82nd day before the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November of the odd-numbered year, and shall apply to all candidates on the ballot in the elections held on that date. (2) In the event there is to be an election of candidates to a special district, school district, charter city, or other local government body at the same time as one of the five major election dates specified in subparagraphs (A) to (F), inclusive, and the last possible day to file nomination papers for the local election would occur after the date of the drawing for the major election date, the procedure set forth in Section 13113 shall apply.
(c) Each randomized alphabet drawing shall be open to the public. At least 10 days prior to a drawing, the Secretary of State shall notify the news media and other interested parties of the date, time, and place of the drawing. The president of each statewide association of local officials with responsibilities for conducting elections shall be invited by the Secretary of State to attend each drawing or send a representative. The state chairman of each qualified political party shall be invited to attend or send a representative in the case of drawings held to determine the order of candidates on the primary election ballot, the November general election ballot, or a special election ballot as provided for in subdivision (d).
. . .
Looking at the San Bernardino City Unified School District election for Candidate for Governing Board Member, the order is:
Anna M. Cox
Willard A. Hughes
Margaret B. Hill
Lynda K. Savage
Damon L. Alexander
Juan M. Lopez
Henry William Nickel
Sharon “Bobbie” Perong
For the City of San Bernardino races:
For City Attorney
David L. McKenna
James F. “Jim” Penman
For City Clerk:
Georgeann “Gigi” Hanna
William A. Valle
For City Treasurer
David C. Kennedy
For Candidate for City Council, Ward 3:
For Candidate for City Council Ward 5
Chas A. Kelley
Larry A. Lee
For Candidate for City Council Ward 6
Rikke Van Johnson
For Candidate for City Council Ward 7
What is particularly amusing about the randomized draw is that all four City Council Member incumbents are listed first, even with the randomized drawing. Of course, only three are contested, and each are two person races, so the probability of that happening at random is not that unusual.
Address : 1255 W. Colton Ave., Suite 104
Redlands, CA 92374
Telephone: (909) 708-6055