For the first time in a quarter of a century, candidates' names won’t be listed alphabetically on the municipal election ballot.
City council decided June 6 mayoral, council and park board candidates' name order will be based on a random draw for the 2018 vote, which takes place Oct. 20.
This raises the question of exactly how it will happen.
Vancouver’s elections office declined an interview with the Courier about specifics, as it hasn’t worked out the exact details yet, but the communications officer pointed to Section 79 of the Vancouver Charter, which dictates how the names are drawn. The office will abide by the section as it decides the process.
Section 79 in the Vancouver Charter:
- The Council may, by by-law, permit the order of names on a ballot to be determined by lot in accordance with this section.
- The chief election officer must notify all candidates as to the date, time and place when the determination is to be made.
- The only persons who may be present at the determination are the candidates, or their official agents, and any other persons permitted to be present by the chief election officer.
- The procedure for the determination is to be as follows:
- the name of each candidate is to be written on a separate piece of paper, as similar as possible to all other pieces prepared for the determination;
- the pieces of paper are to be folded in a uniform manner in such a way that the names of the candidates are not visible;
- the pieces of paper are to be placed in a container that is sufficiently large to allow them to be shaken for the purpose of making their distribution random, and the container is to be shaken for this purpose;
- the chief election officer is to direct a person who is not a candidate or candidate representative to withdraw the papers one at a time;
- the name on the first paper drawn is to be the first name on the ballot, the name on the second paper is to be the second, and so on until the placing of all candidates' names on the ballot has been determined.
The nomination period for the 2018 election is Sept. 4 to 14.
The draw has to happen after the withdrawal and challenge period for candidates is over. This period ends at 4 p.m., seven days after the end of the nomination period.
The elections office hasn’t, however, set an official date and time yet — the Chief Election Officer will announce the draw time closer to the fall.
Although Vancouver’s 1993 election ballot also listed names based on a draw, the design of the ballot has changed since then.
The elections office says it tries to ensure the ballot is clear and understandable for voters. The current ballot style includes the following elements:
- Names are listed as “LASTNAME, Firstname” with the party affiliation listed to their right
- Names are aligned to the left of the box
- Citizens fill in ovals to the left of each name
When city council approved the switch to a randomized ballot, it also approved a $235,000 increase to the election budget to help address concerns that some voters, particularly seniors and those with disabilities, might be confused by an order that isn't alphabetical. At this point, the plan is to “heavily” publicize the official random order list after the draw date to ensure voters are informed. The list will be available on the election website, in the printed voter guide, and in local advertisements. There will also be additional staff at voting stations.