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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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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