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Ballot order

Here’s the ballot order for the November city elections. I don’t know how much being listed first really means – whatever it means, it likely varies a great deal from election to election, depending on the turnout and the level of interest in the races – but all things considered I’d rather be listed first than in the middle of the pack.

Be that as it may, I have to ask: Why don’t we take advantage of the fact that we use fancy computers for our voting interface, and randomize ballot order for each race and each voter? I mean, whatever the effect of being first is, why should there be a benefit from such a meaningless thing? In partisan elections, I’d just randomize which party appears first, with each race for a given voter having the same party appear first. But for primaries and non-partisan elections, why not take the dumb luck of the ballot position lottery out of the picture? We have the technology. Why not use it?

UPDATE: Muse has more.

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  1. Why not randomize all races in partisan elections? After all, shouldn’t the benefits of being listed first also acrue to independent candidates, or perhaps to those who run on third party tickets that do not include candidates in all races? Or would you prefer to allow the benefit to only candidates of the two major parties — and if so, why?

  2. RWR – I did suggest randomizing the order of the candidates in partisan elections. I just said that you randomize the order that the parties appear for a given voter – R, D, L, I, whatever else – and maintain that order for each race. That way maybe you see Ds first, I see Ls first, someone else sees Rs first, and it all balances out. If you really want to randomize each race in partisan elections, you could. I think that might be a bit confusing, but I have no real objection to it.

  3. Baby Snooks says:

    I just hope we don’t have a majority who just vote for the first name simply because they like the name. Given the last election in which people didn’t vote for someone because of their name, it’s highly possible that will indeed happen. And we will have another Mayor Brown. Although a lot of people will wake up the next morning and go “That’s Peter Brown?”