Alphabetically Ordered Ballots and the Composition of American Legislatures
Abbreviated Journal Title
State Polit. Policy Q.
electoral systems; representation; elections; election rules; political; behavior; POSITIONAL VOTING BIAS; RELATIVE AGE; ELECTION OUTCOMES; CALIFORNIA; VOTE; PATTERNS; SUCCESS; Political Science
Although research demonstrates that favorable ballot position can deliver candidates a small windfall of votes in local, nonpartisan, and primary elections, it is not clear whether ballot order laws have had any impact on the composition of U.S. legislatures. In this article, I estimate the substantive significance of ballot order rules by comparing the legislators of states that alphabetically order ballots to those elected by states that randomize or rotate ballot order. I also compare legislators elected by states that started or stopped alphabetically ordering ballots in recent decades. I find that states that alphabetically order ballots disproportionately elect candidates with early alphabet surnames. My research challenges the prevailing belief that ballot order affects only minor elections and suggests that seemingly innocuous rules have altered our political landscape. I conclude that arbitrary ballot ordering rules should be reformed to remedy their substantial impact on political representation.
State Politics & Policy Quarterly
"Alphabetically Ordered Ballots and the Composition of American Legislatures" (2015). Faculty Bibliography 2010s. 6520.