Amid concerns about an advantage conferred to some candidates because their name appeared at the top of the ballot, the City of Vancouver will introduce an alphabetically randomized ballot for the October 20, 2018 civic election. All voters will see the same ballot layout.
Read more about this in the City’s administrative report from earlier this year:
There is a longstanding collection of empirical evidence demonstrating that voters without well-defined preferences are more likely to select the top-listed names on ballots due to cognitive fatigue.
So how do we get from here to there?
It starts with choosing the order of names — a.k.a. randomization.
You can witness the randomization process in two ways, just to ensure that if one party’s candidates dominate the top of the ballot, that it’s only a statistical fluke:
- In person: Council Chamber, City Hall, 5 pm, September 21, 2018
- Online (and recorded): council video broadcast system
The process, believe it or not, is laid out in section 79(1) of the Vancouver Charter:
- Each candidate’s name will be written on a separate piece of paper, as similar as possible to all other pieces
- Each piece of paper will be folded in a uniform manner so the names are not visible
- Each piece of paper will be placed in a container which will then be shaken to make their distribution random
- The Chief Election Officer will direct a person who is not a candidate or candidate representative to withdraw the papers one at a time
- For each race, the name on the first paper drawn is the first name on the ballot, the name on the second paper is to be the second, and so on until all the candidates’ names have been placed on the ballot.
The list will be available online, in local newspapers, at community centres & libraries and via mailout.
For those fretting about how to provide a reminder list of approved candidates to a group of like-minded voters, there’s a way to do this:
Plan your vote
After candidates are announced in late September, use the online Plan Your Vote tool to:
- Easily view candidates in alphabetical and random ballot order.
- Pick your candidates, a date, and a place to vote.
- Email yourself or print your plan, displayed in the order that will be shown on the ballot.
- Set a reminder to vote.
- Take your plan to the voting place with you.
You may also use a worksheet in the printed voters’ guide to mark your choices, then take your completed worksheet to the voting place with you.