Ballot order controversy

A legal issue in Connecticut over the order in which each party’s candidate will appear on the ballot:

[A] 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…

State statute says “the party whose candidate for governor polled the highest number of votes in the last-preceding election” gets the first position on the ballot. But Democrat Dannel P. Malloy appeared on the ballot twice in 2010, on the Democratic and Working Families Party ballot lines. More votes were cast for Tom Foley on the Republican line than they were for Malloy on the Democratic line, but the Working Families Party votes handed Malloy the election.

See the Post-Chronicle story for all the gory detail.

2 thoughts on “Ballot order controversy

  1. Alan @1, IIRC some US States do rotate ballot order, although “simple” rotation (ABC, BCA, CAB) rather than Neil Robson’s more complex but mathematically exhaustive method.

    In New York State, also IIRC, there is a different random draw in each precinct or county, which approaches rotation if the law of large numbers kicks in.

    A plausible argument could be put that rotated ballots “cost too much” and confuse the Votomatics. At the very least, though, a jurisdiction could produce two versions in equal-sized batches, the second being the mirror reversal of the first.

    Having said that, there’s some merit to the view that ranking the parties on the ballot from largest to smallest (at the previous election) makes it more comprehensible to the average voter. Germany has this rule.

    MSS, I’ve had a thought that maybe when linking to news stories about partisan political disputes, you could interpose a Rawlsian veil of ignorance by referring to “Party AB” and “Party XY”. We can still see their true identities when clicking through but it would be an interesting exercise in us trying to assess the merits of the arguments free of bias – at least in cases like this where the parties’ stances on the issue don’t track widely-known ideological divides (the Dems’ dislike voter ID, for example, or the GOP’s staunch opposition, ever since the days of Lincoln, to counting ballots manually).

    My own take would be since the statute says “the party whose candidate polled the most votes”, and not “the party that polled the most votes”, the Dems get the top spot. Malloy got the most votes, and he was the Dems’ candidate, even if the Dems didn’t get the most votes qua party. (Who says US voters couldn’t grasp IRO-AV?) But then there’s probably an amendment somewhere in the Constitution barring US adjudicators from having regard to the views of foreign jurists.

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