No, Bernie’s Name Wasn’t Deliberately Buried on the California Ballot

A glimpse into the fraught history of ballot design.

man voting on Super Tuesday

Liu Jie/Xinhua/Zuma

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As voting kicks off in 14 states (plus Samoa) on Super Tuesday, outraged tweets are circulating that Bernie Sanders’ name is hidden on the second page of the ballot in San Diego County, California.  

Others on Twitter falsely claimed that this positioning of his name was taking place “all over the country.”

 

The California Secretary of State was quick to fact-check these assertions on Twitter, explaining that the ordering of candidates was generated by a randomized alphabet drawing, which rotates by district so that no one candidate has the advantage of landing on top of the list in each of the delegate-rich state’s 80 districts. 

Ballot design has a fraught history in the United States. Given that ballot ordering has shown to give candidates at the top of the list a significant advantage, a randomized list is supposed to be more fair, and being buried on the second page isn’t where any candidate wants to be today. In fact, the ballot ordering for the 2020 Democratic presidential race varies state by state, and sometimes, as in California, county by county. Other states that are voting today, like Alabama, list candidates alphabetically by party. 

Luckily for Bernie, a quick Twitter search reveals that he found better placement on other ballots across the country—and that includes several counties in the Golden State.  

 

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You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

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