Florida: Court Hands Blow to Democrats Who Sued Over Florida Ballot Order | Bobby Caina Calvan/NBC 6

The state of Florida does not have to come up with a new way to list candidates on the ballot, a federal appellate court ruled Wednesday, dealing a blow to Democrats who argued that Republicans have an unfair advantage because the current system automatically lists their candidates first. The high-stakes jockeying over name order on Florida’s ballot is hardly inconsequential as Republicans and Democrats grapple for every advantage they can get in elections that are often too close to call on election night. Tossing out a lower court’s ruling, the appellate court found that the lawsuit filed by three Florida voters and several Democratic groups had wrongly targeted the state’s chief elections officer, who the court said isn’t responsible for printing ballots and setting the order in which names appear. In a statement, the groups said they would weigh their options. They also took issue with the court’s finding that Democrats were not harmed. Under Florida law, President Donald Trump would automatically appear at the top of the ballot in November — ahead of former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumed Democratic nominee.

Florida: ‘Thumb on the scale’: Democrats attack Florida law that lists Republicans first | Tampa Bay Times

Rick Scott won two close races for governor by a single percentage point. President Donald Trump carried Florida by 1.2 points in 2016. The two Republicans ran in different years, but they had something in common. Their names appeared first on the ballots, above those of their Democratic rivals, and Democrats argue in a lawsuit that Republicans no longer should enjoy an unfair advantage. In Florida, the listing of candidates in partisan races favors the party that controls the governor’s office. Some states such as Ohio, New Hampshire and Montana rotate names of candidates between counties or precincts.

North Carolina: A little-noticed ballot change could have a big impact this year | Charlotte Observer

A little-noticed bill passed by lawmakers last month could have a big impact on the race for North Carolina’s Supreme Court. The bill, now law, will put Democrat Anita Earls’ name last on the ballot for the court contest. It would have come first under the old law. Studies have shown ballot order favors the candidate listed first, and could make a difference in a close race. That change comes on the heels of another new law that puts all judicial races — including the Supreme Court — at the bottom of the ballot behind other races.  “It’s clearly done in the hopes of Republicans that ballot fatigue will kick in, and that will result in a drop-off of votes for those offices at the bottom of the ballot,” said Wayne Goodwin, the state Democratic chairman.

El Salvador: Election Officials Say Vote Counting ‘Error’ Fixed | teleSUR

The Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) of El Salvador recognized Wednesday there was an informatics “error” in the software in charge of counting the votes of last Sunday’s legislative and municipal elections as one observer mission expressed concerns over the “complexity” of the voting system. “Given the irregularities related to the so-called informatics error, confirmed by the electoral authorities, investigations will begin in order to decide on the corresponding criminal or administrative responsibilities,” the General Prosecutor’s office (FGR) declared in a press release. The FGR said it would make sure the software results matched those of the tally sheets to guarantee transparency and legality in the electoral process. They also demanded that the TSE carefully look over the computerized vote counting. Francisco Campo, Smartmatic’s commercial director, said that a “human error” had caused the software to list the candidates in a disorganized way. As a result, the software had to process again 13,000 tally sheets, slightly changing the preliminary outcome.

Florida: Does this candidate’s last name start with G or T? She’s suing to change the ballot | Miami Herald

Claiming gender and ethnic discrimination by elections officials, a candidate for Miami City Commission has asked a judge to order new ballots printed that properly identify her surname and place it ahead of the names of her two competitors. Denise Galvez Turros says she filed a complaint in circuit court Wednesday arguing that Miami’s city clerk erred when he identified her last name as Turros. Though her name is reflected on the ballot as “Denise Galvez Turros,” it was placed third after competitors Manuel “Manolo” Reyes and Ralph Rosado because of alphabetical ordering.

Voting Blogs: Ballot Ordering: A Recurrent Controversy in Virginia? | State of Elections

In at least the two most recent “big” elections in Virginia, the 2016 Presidential race, and the 2017 race for Governor, there has been some controversy over the method used to decide which order candidates appear on the ballot. In March 2017, the Corey Stewart campaign issued a press release accusing Ed Gillespie’s campaign of “manipulating the Virginia Board of Elections in a last-ditch, rule-breaking effort to have Ed’s name placed at the top of the [primary] ballot.” Virginia law provides that ballot order for primaries is determined by the time that a candidate files for the office, on a first come first served basis. If candidates file simultaneously, ballot order is determined by lottery. The Stewart campaign went so far as to camp out in front of the Board of Elections offices the night before in order to be first, but alleged that Gillespie’s campaign was pressuring the Board to consider their filings simultaneous.

Virginia: Whoops! Sorry about that frigid camp-out, but ballot placement is a lottery | The Washington Post

Braving bitter cold, campaign staffers for state Sen. Bryce E. Reeves camped out all weekend in front of the state Board of Elections, determined to get his name listed first on the ballot for the June 13 GOP primary for lieutenant governor of Virginia. Sunday night, they got some company on the sidewalk. Staffers for gubernatorial hopeful Corey A. Stewart lined up behind them, confident for the next 12 bone-chilling hours that they, too, had snagged the top ballot position in their race. Under state code, name placement on primary ballots is determined by the order in which the requisite paperwork is filed. In the competition to get candidates top billing, playing out on the coldest weekend of the year, it seemed the race would go to the hardiest. But the frigid vigils were for naught.

Utah: Committee approves bill aimed at stopping ballot alphabet games | The Salt Lake Tribune

A rose by any other name smells as sweet, but a political candidate by another name could have an advantage on the ballot. That’s the premise behind SB269, which would have the state elections office wait until after the candidate filing deadline to generate its randomized alphabetical order for ballot listing. “The order a person appears on a ballot, especially in a nonpartisan race or in a primary, can affect the outcome of an election,” said Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, the bill’s sponsor. Because the current practice sees the ballot alphabet released ahead of the filing deadline, Stephenson said, candidates are able to tweak their names for better positioning in the voting booth.

Australia: Random number generator to determine candidate positions on ballot paper on Thursday | The Canberra Times

Candidates will discover on Thursday their position on the ballot paper in October’s election, although with a random ballot paper it is not clear there is any advantage to be had. The names of more than 100 candidates expected to stand for the hotly contested ACT election will be announced at lunchtime. With an extra eight seats up for grabs as the Parliament swells to 25 members, this election offers the best opportunity to get elected of any election since self-government. If every incumbent keeps their seat other than the two retiring members, there will still be 10 new faces. To ensure no advantage from ballot position, the ACT Electoral Commission will use a random number generator to decide the order in which the parties appear. Independents will all be on the right-hand side of the ballot paper – in one column if there are up to five independents, and spreading over two or more columns if there are more.

North Carolina: Legislature changes ballot order for Court of Appeals candidates | News & Observer

If signed by Gov. Pat McCrory, a change in state election law approved in the final hours of the 2016 legislative session would ensure the name of Phil Berger Jr. appears first on the ballot in his race against incumbent Court of Appeals Judge Linda Stephens in November. If not for the legislation, Berger’s name would have appeared below Stephens’ on the November ballot through a random ballot-order method used by the state Board of Elections. Berger, a Republican, is the son of state Senate leader Phil Berger, an Eden Republican. The elder Berger voted for the bill that would result in his son’s name being listed first. Numerous studies have shown that being listed first on a ballot can give that candidate at least a slight advantage, especially on down-ballot races like the Court of Appeals race where candidates aren’t as well-known as presidential or gubernatorial candidates, for example.

Editorials: Virginia’s ballots are out of order | Richmond Times-Dispatch

Much of the support for Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump this year comes from voters who feel the system is rigged. On Monday the 4th Circuit Court in Richmond lent support to that notion. Sanders and Trump themselves agree — at least in broad strokes. Sanders says he “wouldn’t use the word rigged,” just “really dumb.” Trump is (surprise!) not so restrained: “It’s a rigged system, it’s a corrupt enterprise.” Those complaints look a trifle odd coming from those sources. Nationwide, Hillary Clinton received 3 million more votes than Sanders did in the Democratic primaries and caucuses. Trump complains the system is rigged and corrupt in one breath — and then boasts about how many states he won in the next. Merits aside, Trump and Sanders are complaining about the nominating processes of the Republican and Democratic political parties, which are essentially private organizations. Any advantages or disadvantages a candidate faces are imposed by internal party rules, not the machinery of government. That’s not the case regarding third parties, which face obstacles imposed by law.

Voting Blogs: Fourth Circuit Upholds Virginia’s Discriminatory Ballot Listing for Candidates | Ballot Access News

On June 20, the Fourth Circuit agreed with the U.S. District Court that Virginia’s discriminatory listing of candidates on the general election ballot is constitutional. Libertarian Party of Virginia v Alcorn, 15-1162. The decision is by Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson, a Reagan appointee. It is co-signed by Judge G. Stephen Agee, a Bush Jr. appointee, and Andre M. Davis, a Clinton appointee. The Virginia law says the nominees of the qualified parties are always listed first on the ballot, followed by the nominees of the unqualified parties, and then by independent candidates. Ironically, Virginia does require random placement of each candidate within each category, so a random order procedure is used in every election to determine whether the Republican or the Democratic Party nominees are listed first or second. The decision does not mention any of the court decisions that say the U.S. Constitution requires an equal chance for all candidates to be listed first on the ballot, except for a U.S. District Court decision from Oklahoma that struck down a law saying the Democratic Party should always be listed first (the law mentioned the Democratic Party by name). The Fourth Circuit decision ignores contrary decisions of the Seventh and Eighth Circuits, a U.S. District Court in New Mexico, and the California and New Hampshire Supreme Courts.

Editorials: Will Americans Vote Differently on a Touchscreen? | Shlomo Benartzi/The Daily Beast

One of the basic insights of behavioral science is that the format of a choice set—how the options are arranged on a page—can significantly shape our decisions. This is true when ordering a meal at a restaurant, but also at the ballot box, as the design of a paper ballot can influence which candidates we end up voting for. For example, studies led by Jon Krosnick at Stanford University have shown that candidates at the top of the ballot get, on average, about 2 percentage points more votes than they would have if listed farther down. This primacy effect even holds in national elections, when voters are more familiar with the candidates. When the name order of candidates was randomized on the California state ballot in the 2000 election, George W. Bush’s vote total was 9 percentage points higher in districts where his name appeared first versus last, Krosnick says. To deal with this bias, many states have begun randomizing the order of candidates, taking steps to ensure that a cognitive quirk doesn’t determine the winner of the election.

Voting Blogs: Alphabetically ordered ballots make elections less fair and distort the composition of legislatures : Democratic Audit UK

Conventional political wisdom suggests the candidate listed first on a ballot enjoys a slight windfall of votes cast by those who don’t know or care enough to consider all their options. By focusing on particular elections, researchers have neglected to consider the broad consequences of arbitrary ballot ordering rules on legislative representation. To evaluate the substantive significance of ballot order rules, I compare the legislators of states that alphabetically order ballots to legislators elected by states that randomize or rotate ballot order. My research suggests that the seemingly innocuous choice of some states to alphabetize ballots has significantly altered the composition of state legislatures and even Congress. Scholarly interest in how ballots are designed and organized predates the explosion of interest in the subject generated by the 2000 Presidential Election. Most studies suggest the first candidate listed on a ballot enjoys an above average number of votes in certain elections. The less that voters know or care about the election, the greater the windfall of votes to the first listed candidate. Think how often you click the first link in Google search results and don’t bother to consider all your options. However, when the stakes are relatively high, as in partisan legislative elections, scholars suggest ballot order has little or no influence on voters. Accordingly, some have concluded that the distortions induced by ballot order are confined to low-level elections and do not affect the general political landscape. I was sceptical of this sanguine assessment of ballot order effects and looked at the impact of alphabetically ordering ballots on high-level legislative offices. I found that the practice of alphabetically ordering ballots, used in a number of states, significantly distorts the composition of their state legislatures and congressional delegations in favour of representatives with early-alphabet names.

New Jersey: Gloucester County ballot draw business as usual, while third parties see change in sight | NJ.com

It was business as usual for Gloucester County Clerk Jim Hogan on Monday afternoon. He was joined by his staff and a handful of party members and candidates as he drew names for the November general election ballot, something he’s done twice a year for more than 15 years. Third-party advocates, however, are hoping for a new routine next time around. At exactly 3 p.m., Hogan began dropping tiny glass vials stuffed with  candidates names into a eight-sided wooden tumbler, locking a small door on one side, shaking it to the left, the right, over his head, left and right again, before unlocking the hatch and pulling out names and handing them to Elections Supervisor Tiffany Pindale. She carefully pulled each piece of paper out of the vial with long red tweezers, and they repeated the semi-annual ritual over and over again for the next 55 minutes to decide the ballot placement for the U.S. Senate, Congressional and local nonpartisan school board races.

Hawaii: Bill Would Change Order of Names on Ballot | Big Island Now

What’s in a name? Apparently some advantage, according to a bill under consideration at the state Legislature. House Bill 32 would change state law dictating the way candidates’ names are placed on election ballots. They currently are listed alphabetically (with a rare exception; more on that later), but the bill would change that. The new method would have the state’s chief election officer select a letter of the alphabet by lot, and candidates with last names beginning with that letter would be listed first, followed by those with letters that follow alphabetically. The reason for the proposed change is “to ensure fairness in the election process,” according to a report from the House Committee on Judiciary which approved the measure last week. The theory is that some people might just pick the first name listed on the ballot in a race. That is the conventional wisdom, according to a study done by three California researchers on the “ballot-order effect.”

Hawaii: Ballots printed incorrectly | Hawaii Tribune Herald

More than one-half million Hawaii ballots were printed with the presidential candidates in no particular order, despite a state law that says all candidates must be in alphabetical order within their respective races. The state Office of Elections has downplayed the error, and officials contacted this week also don’t see it as a problem, especially for the Barack Obama-Mitt Romney race. But Hawaii County Clerk Jamae Kawauchi is seeking a legal opinion after her office was contacted by voters. With Hawaii-born Obama on the ticket of an overwhelmingly blue state, there’s little chance the candidate will be missed, even if he’s at the very bottom of the line-up behind the GOP candidate Romney, at the top, followed by Green Party candidate Jill Stein and Libertarian Gary Johnson, they say. Obama received 71.5 percent of the Hawaii vote in 2008.

Connecticut: GOP To Get Top Ballot Line in Connecticut | CT News

The jury is still out on whether having the top line of the ballot even makes a difference, but the Supreme Court’s verdict giving Republicans back the top ballot line is in. This summer, the Republican Party challenged Secretary of the State Denise Merrill’s decision to give Democrats the top ballot line after the 2010 gubernatorial election. The mistake wasn’t discovered in 2011, so Democratic candidates appeared at the top of the ballot last year. Republicans argued Tom Foley received more votes on the Republican line than Gov. Dannel P. Malloy received on the Democratic line, so its candidates should have top billing.

Connecticut: Sample ballots in Connecticut list candidates in no particular order | The Middletown Press

Sample ballots were sent to town election administrators Monday and, in anticipation of a state Supreme Court ruling, the candidates on those ballots were in no particular order. The same day, attorneys for the Republican Party of Connecticut and the Secretary of the State’s office issued arguments for and against the contention that a lawsuit brought by the GOP should not have made it to the Supreme Court. That lawsuit is causing a delay on the final order of candidates for Election Day ballots. The GOP took Secretary of the State Denise Merrill to court after she decided Democrats should get the top ballot line. Republicans say state law dictates otherwise.

Connecticut: State Supreme Court hears ballot-line issue | The Bulletin

Connecticut’s Republican Party asked the state’s highest court on Wednesday to give GOP candidates the top line on the state’s November ballot, a challenge that could affect voting in the closely watched contest for an open U.S. Senate seat. The outcome of the governor’s race determines which party holds the first line. But state Republicans argued the secretary of the state was wrong to list Democrats first because their candidate, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, relied on votes from a third party to put him over the top in the 2010 election. Since lever voting machines have been replaced with optical scan machines, both sides in dispute say it matters less which party is on the top line of ballots. But academics say recent studies have demonstrated ballot order can make a small yet significant difference.

Connecticut: Ballot-Line Fight Goes To Supreme Court Wednesday | Hartford Courant

The state Supreme Court, moving swiftly, will hear oral arguments Wednesday on whether Republicans should replace Democrats at the top of the ballot in November. In a lawsuit that it filed just last month, the state Republican Party argued that it should receive the top ballot line after the complicated results of the 2010 gubernatorial election. The high court’s ruling will have a direct effect in November, when much of Connecticut’s political world is up for election: a U.S. Senate seat, all five congressional offices, 151 seats in the state House of Representative and 36 in the state Senate. The matter will be determined by the seven Supreme Court justices, who have been nominated by governors and approved by the legislature through the years. Although Democrat Dannel P. Malloy won the governor’s race in 2010, he did it with a combination of votes from both the Democratic Party and the union-backed Working Families Party. In the tight race, Republican Tom Foley captured more votes on the Republican line than Malloy did on the Democratic line. With that result, Republicans say that their party should get the top line because they received more votes than any other party.

Connecticut: GOP says its candidates earned top spot on the next state ballot | The Connecticut Mirror

The state legislature’s top Republicans charged Thursday that GOP candidates should have been placed at the top of the ballot during last fall’s municipal elections, and challenged Connecticut’s chief elections official to correct the matter before the state elections this November. State law rewards the party with the best showing in the gubernatorial contest by placing its candidates first on the ballot for the next four years. In the 2010 gubernatorial election, Democrat Dannel Malloy finished 6,404 votes ahead of Republican Tom Foley. But Foley earned all 560,874 of his votes on the GOP line. Malloy, who was endorsed by both the Democratic Party as well as the Working Families Party, collected 540,970 votes on the Democratic Party line, and 26,308 votes on the Working Families ticket.So which party truly finished first in terms of ballot order rights? Republicans now assert it was theirs.

New Hampshire: Ballot order not a boon to Romney | The Washington Post

Mitt Romney may be favored in the New Hampshire primary, but the state’s ballot may hurt the former Massachusetts governor’s bid to meet the lofty expectations that he carries into the contest. Romney appears third from the bottom of the list of 30 candidates in the state’s Republican presidential primary. It’s a position likely to drag down Romney’s numbers, according to research by Stanford professor Jon Krosnick.