Secretary of State Determines Primary Election Alphabet
Posted by Chris Nguyen on March 19, 2014
I’ve had several people ask me what the candidate order for the June ballot will be.
California law requires a lottery to determine the order of candidates on the ballot. Why does this law exist? Studies of the primacy effect showed the candidate at the top of the ballot gains as much as a 5% increase in votes. Consequently, in 1975, California legislators adopted a law mandating an end to the alphabetical listing of candidates (likely to the chagrin of Sam Aanestad and Dick Ackerman but the joy of Mary Young and Ed Zschau) and requiring a lottery before each election.
The Secretary of State’s candidate order lottery has determined the alphabet for the June primary to be ROYWBMCKVTFUQPIHDAJNEXGSZL.
Nowhere was the result more dramatic than the 48th Congressional District. In all of Orange County, the candidate who came in absolutely last was Wendy Brooks Leece (R), who is challenging Dana Rohrabacher‘s (R) bid for re-election. Coincidentally, the candidate who came in first among all Orange County candidates was none other than Rohrabacher.
For multicounty Congressional seats, statewide seats, and Board of Equalization, they will rotate in each Assembly District.
Ed Royce (R) would have come in ahead of Rohrabacher if it weren’t for the fact that Royce’s multi-county district doesn’t get to use the Secretary of State’s drawing, instead using the Assembly District rotation. Since Royce has only one opponent, Peter O. Anderson (D), the two of them will flip-flop throughout the Assembly Districts of the 39th Congressional District.
For multicounty state legislative seats, the Registrar of Voters in each County does another lottery. The candidate order lottery for the Orange County portions has determined the alphabet to be FQMTPUSZJRIBOVCAEKNYWXHLDG.
In the 55th Assembly District, Gregg Fritchle (D) is first (with F being the first overall letter), followed by Steve Tye (R), Ling-Ling Chang (R), and Phillip Chen (R). No alphabet sequence was closer than Chang and Chen. Where C and H drew was irrelevant for Chang and Chen; it was where A and E finished that matters. This was a photo finish: A was the 16th letter drawn while E was the 17th letter. Chang and Chen also possess the two largest warchests of anyone running for the Assembly in Orange County (incumbents included). AD-55 has all the makings of a highly competitive race, and it’s almost like the candidate order lottery reflects that (though obviously the candidate order lottery’s results are just a coincidence).
On a side note, you would think that with electronic voting now, the names could be randomized for every poll voter (obviously, we’d still need the lottery for absentee voters).