OC Political

A right-of-center blog covering local, statewide, and national politics

Posts Tagged ‘ballot designation’

OC’s Worst Ballot Designations, 2020 Primary Edition

Posted by Chris Nguyen on February 28, 2020

Ballot designations are the only piece of information that appear directly on the ballot other than a candidate’s name (and sometimes, political party).

A unique animal in California elections law is the ballot designation.  Those are the three words the appear under non-presidential candidates’ names on the ballot (I will note, there are a handful of exceptions that allow more than three words).  For every voter, it’s the last thing they see about a candidate before casting their ballots.  For a frighteningly high number of voters, it’s the only thing they see about a candidate before casting their ballots in low-profile races.

Consequently, ballot designations may well be the most important words in a race, with campaigns even filing lawsuits over ballot designations every election.

In many previous elections, OC Political has written about the worst ballot designations on the ballot.  These are the candidates who truly squandered a small, but very important, opportunity to communicate with the voters.

OC’s Ten Worst Ballot Designations

  1. Caregiver/Driver (Will Johnson in the 46th Congressional District)
    The reverse version of this ballot designation (“Driver/Caregiver”) for this exact same candidate in this exact same office actually made the 2018 primary election list of “OC’s Worst Ballot Designations” as the second-worst designation behind only “Carpenter/Boxing Coach.”  With no Carpenter/Boxing Coach on the ballot this time, “Caregiver/Driver” takes the top slot.  To quote the 2018 list: “What special skills does a driver bring to being a Member of Congress? While caregivers provide a very important service, what does that service have to do with being a Congressional Representative?”
  2. Mother/Automation Director (Naz Hamid in the 68th District Democratic Central Committee)
    When running for the Central Committee of the party that bills itself as being the party of labor and working people, I can’t imagine why people wouldn’t vote for an automation director.  Nothing says putting people out of work like an automation director.
  3. Student/Campaign Coordinator (Kalvin Alvarez in the 74th District Democratic Central Committee)
    As I’ve said in previous editions of “OC’s Worst Ballot Designations,” the voters do not vote for students.  They prefer candidates who are not still in school.  Every time someone complains when I put “Student” on the list, their candidate loses.  Plenty of young people have won office: not one of them has used “Student” as their ballot designation even when they are students.
  4. Handyman (Bobby Florentz in the 65th District Republican Central Committee)
    What unique skills does a handyman bring when running for office?  I mean I guess he’s helpful if you have a wobbly table or flickering light at Central Committee that needs fixing.
  5. Teacher’s Assistant (Jalen Dupree McLeod in the 47th Congressional District)
    Teacher’s assistants perform a valuable job.  However, in picking candidates for office, I feel the voters would prefer the actual teacher rather than the teacher’s assistant.  It’s especially tough when you’re challenging a sitting member of Congress from your own political party.
  6. Risk Professional (Sudi Farokhnia in the 73rd District Democratic Central Committee)
    Oh, yes, that’s what everyone wants for Central Committee: a risk professional.  Who doesn’t love insurance?  While an important job, this profession does not bring warm, fuzzy feelings to anyone.  For those few voters who know what Central Committee is, I’m sure they’ll be thrilled to have someone who will fret about insurance for precinct walkers and phone bankers.
  7. Legal Clerk (Ariana Arestegui in the 69th District Democratic Central Committee)
    Unless you’re the Orange County Clerk-Recorder or running for that office, a clerk ballot designation just isn’t going to get the job done.  While legal clerks perform an important role, life is unfair, and the voters have little respect for the position.
  8. Filmmaker (Andrew Gallagher in the 74th District Democratic Central Committee)
    Are you Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, James Cameron, or another famed filmmaker?  If not, you should not use “Filmmaker” as your ballot designation.  What special skills does a filmmaker bring to the table?  Maybe if voters knew what Central Committee is, they might like you for your potential ability to make TV campaign commercials, but unfortunately, most voters don’t know what Central Committee is.  (It may be unfair to you, and it was after you’d already picked your designation, but it doesn’t help people are getting sick of Mike Bloomberg and Tom Steyer’s commercials.)
  9. Life Skills Coach (Michael Navarro in the 55th District Republican Central Committee)
    While many people joke about Central Committee members needing life skills coaching, I don’t think the electorate has any particular reason to back a life skills coach for office.
  10. Psychotherapist (Anne Cameron in the 73rd District Democratic Central Committee)
    How bad are your Central Committee meetings getting when you need a psychotherapist?  Why would a voter want to vote for a psychotherapist for office?  So the psychotherapist can make the other candidates feel better?

(Dis)Honorable Mention

This ballot designation was subpar, but it wasn’t bad enough to make the list of worst ballot designations.  However, this poor soul probably should have realized sometimes politics is about timing. For some of us, the name you’re born with (or the name you marry into) just brings unfair problems beyond your control.  (I am not unsympathetic to this, having had numerous misspellings and mispronunciations of my last name of Nguyen.)  For the candidate below, this is probably a good name when running for Republican Central Committee.  However, in running for Democratic Central Committee, I think it may have been wise to wait until 2024 to run:

  • Mary Tromp, Retired Computer Programmer (72nd District Democratic Central Committee)

Posted in 46th Congressional District, 47th Congressional District, Democrat Central Committee, Republican Central Committee | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Illegal Ballot Designations That No One Will Bother to Challenge

Posted by Chris Nguyen on March 5, 2012

Looking through the candidate filing, I noticed a couple ballot designations that do not comply with the State Elections Code and Ballot Designation Regulations.  However, no one, not even their opponents, will bother to challenge them.

Fullerton City Council Recall Replacement

(Elections Code Section 13107(a) governs acceptable ballot designations.  Subparagraphs 1, 2, and 4 govern the designations of sitting elected officials, so only 13107(a)(3) applies to this post.)  A ballot designation must consist of the “principal professions, vocations, or occupations” of a candidate.  According to Secretary of State Regulation Section 20714(a):

  • “‘Profession’ means a field of employment requiring special education or skill and requiring knowledge of a particular discipline. The labor and skill involved in a profession is predominantly mental or intellectual, rather than physical or manual…”
  • “‘Vocation’ means a trade, a religious calling, or the work upon which a person, in most but not all cases, relies for his or her livelihood and spends a major portion of his or her time…”
  • “‘Occupation’ means the employment in which one regularly engages or follows as the means of making a livelihood…”

Roberta Reid has “Student” as her ballot designation.  Being a student is not a profession, vocation, or occupation, as defined by the Secretary of State’s regulations.  However, “student” is such a horrible designation that none of her opponents would challenge it.  Nearly any other ballot designation would help Reid, so anyone challenging the designation would probably be an ally.  I mean, really, who’s going to vote for a “student” on the ballot?

Note to all students running for office: Pick “Community Volunteer” as your ballot designation; it sounds good and is virtually unassailable for candidates without full-time jobs.

Democrats’ 55th Assembly District Central Committee

Molly A. Muro has “Business Opportunity Specialist” as her ballot designation.  Secretary of State Regulation Section 20716(e) specifically prohibits the word “specialist” as part of a ballot designation.  (Indeed, former Assemblyman Alan Nakanishi tried to user “Jobs/Economy Specialist” as his ballot designation in the 2010 Board of Equalization primary, but was forced to use “Jobs, Economy Analyst” instead.  Read more about Nakanishi’s attempt here from an old Red County post by Chris Emami and here from Nakanishi’s victorious opponent George Runner.)

However, no one is going to challenge Muro’s designation, even though “Business Opportunity Specialist” actually sounds pretty good.  The reason?  She’s one of three people running for six seats.  She will obviously win since three candidates for six seats means all the candidates win, and there’s still three vacancies left over.  Three more people could decide to run, and everyone running would still win.

Posted in Democrat Central Committee, Fullerton | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »