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Does Ballot Order Matter? Intriguing Possibilities For Primaries

May 24th, 2018 · 1 Comment · Analysis and Comment, State Politics

If ballot lineups matter in Democratic primaries the August contests could show some strange configurations. A number of candidates including Mayor Joe Ganim for governor as well as contenders for state office are hustling signatures to wage primary contests.

By state statute the ballot order in this cycle is governor and lieutenant governor (they run separate in primaries, together in general elections), United States senator, representative in Congress, state senator, state representative, secretary of the state, treasurer, comptroller, attorney general, judge of probate. Not all those seats will have primary contests.

Primary ballot placements after the endorsed candidates on the top line are a work in progress as opponents press toward the June 12 deadline to submit primary petitions. After the endorsed candidates on the top line all other candidates certified for the ballot on the ensuing lines are placed alphabetically.

For instance Line A in Bridgeport’s portion of Connecticut’s 23rd Senate District that covers about two thirds of the city, based on primary possibilities, would look like this: Governor Ned Lamont, Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz, State Senator Dennis Bradley, State Representative Shante Hanks, followed by the remaining constitutional offices with primaries.

Line B, Governor Joe Ganim, Lieutenant Governor Eva Bermudez Zimmerman, State Senator Aaron Turner, State Representative Charlie Stallworth, followed by the remaining constitutional offices with primaries.

Bermudez Zimmerman is on the ballot by virtue of enough delegate support at last Saturday’s Democratic convention. Ganim fell just short of the 15 percent support threshold. Ganim, Turner and Stallworth are signature hunting. So is Carolyn Vermont for the 23rd Senate District. But if she qualifies for the ballot she will appear on line C. If petitioning candidate for governor Guy Smith qualifies for the ballot he will appear on Line C. Also on Line C is Chris Mattei, the Bridgeport-based lawyer who received enough delegate support for attorney general.

Stamford State Rep. William Tong was endorsed for attorney general so he appears on the top line. State Senator Paul Doyle who engaged in some delegate trading with Bridgeport at the convention will appear on Line B for attorney general.

Just because candidates share lines doesn’t mean they support one another. Ganim and Bermudez Zimmerman have not forged an official alliance, although she entered the race as a diversity backlash to Lamont choosing Bysiewicz as his running mate. Ganim is trying to leverage the mayo LaBy ticket as a wedge issue to woo African American and Latino primary voters.

Connecticut voters have proven they can be choosy, if educated about ballot placement. An example of this is Joe Lieberman’s reelection to U.S. Senate in 2006. He lost the primary to Lamont, but back channeled an independent line in the general election. He became the de facto Republican candidate while winning some support from like-minded unaffiliated and Democratic voters. His ballot placement was buried at the bottom in an orphan-like existence. Voters found him. It was during the last years of the old-fashioned voter machine booths prior to the conversation to paper ballots.

So if challengers, be it Democrat or Republican, qualify for primaries part of the voter outreach will include education about ballot placement.

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