This past Tuesday, the city of Fayetteville had a primary election. Elections have become my volunteer passion – I do not participate in any particular candidate’s or party’s efforts, but instead I volunteer for the Board of Elections. This is the entity that ensures that elections are administered according to the laws in place at the time.
Election days make for a VERY long day. We have to report to the precinct at 5:00 am, prepare it for opening the doors at 6:30 am, stay open until 7:30 pm, reconcile the documentation of the day, break down the equipment and deliver everything back to the Board of Elections. Throughout the day, we are not permitted to leave the precinct for any reason. Generally, Charlie is nice enough to make a lunch run and pick up food for us.
Depending on the election, it goes either relatively fast or excruciatingly slow….High interest, general elections go fast, primary municipal elections – not so much!
For the municipal primary my precinct was closed (the primary was for the city of Fayetteville! and I live in the city of Hope Mills) – so I served in a precinct in downtown Fayetteville. 21.3% of voters cast their votes! which for a primary is an extremely high voter participation. A question, asked by quite a few voters: what is the order in which the candidates are listed on the ballot? Voters noticed that the only black candidate was listed last, even though her name begins with “A”.
Several voters just asked the question, several others immediately assumed that it was a result of racism. No one in the precinct appeared particularly inquisitive about the matter (other than me); everyone assumed that there was a rule, that the board had followed it but that it was not imperative for us to know. We eventually did call the office and asked the question; and so, here is what determines the order in which candidates are listed on NC ballots:
Candidates are listed in alphabetical order by last name, beginning with a predetermined letter of the alphabet. (I think they said that they rotate the alphabet and this election they started with the letter “D”). This means that names starting with “D” were listed first, then “e”, then “f” and so on. After the “Z”‘s, they start with “A”, continue to “B”, etc….
There are several published articles indicating that the first candidate listed in the ballot always get an average of 2% more votes. My personal opinion is that this system probably tries to make things a bit more fair…..
I am glad I asked the question, I find that I have gained a lot of knowledge from being nosy!