State Board of Elections Selects Ballot Order, Certifies Election

By Amie Knowles

April 1, 2021

RICHMOND – The State Board of Elections met virtually on Wednesday to determine the order in which individuals will appear on the June 8 Democratic Party Primary ballot. 

Up for grabs were slots for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general. Some races for delegate seats in the Commonwealth were also included in the drawing Wednesday.

The Ballot Order Effect

The positioning of names on a ballot might sound like an insignificant detail, but studies show elections can be won or lost based on the location of a candidates name. This phenomenon is called the “ballot order effect.”

In 1975, the American Journal of Political Science published a report called “The Effect of Ballot Position on Electoral Success.”

The findings, which originated from a controlled experimental study, assessed the impact of name identification, the length of the ballot and the number of candidates on election results. 

The study found that those listed first enjoyed a favorable advantage. Interestingly, the number of candidates on the ballot did not appear to impact that finding. However, a low slot on the ballot could be overcome with name recognition, the study found.

The Gubernatorial Ballot

The Virginia State Board of Elections drew candidates’ names at random on Wednesday. The order in which their names were removed from the drawing determined the order in which they will appear on the ballot.

Paul Saunders, elections administration supervisor, printed each candidate’s name onto a sliver of paper. Then, he placed each name in an object that looked like film canister. After placing the cap on top of each canister, he put the names in a clear bowl. One by one, he selected a random canister.

The governor’s race came up first. There are five candidates running for office, but only three names appeared in the canisters placed inside of the bowl. That’s because Del. Lee Carter and Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax submitted their election materials at a later date than Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, former governor Terry McAuliffe, and Sen. Jennifer McClellan. 

For the three candidates that submitted their materials on March 8 at noon, the order on the ballot is as follows: McAuliffe first, McClellan second, and Carroll Foy third. 

Lee Carter will be fourth on the ballot, as he submitted his material on March 23. Justin Fairfax will be last, because he submitted his material just before the deadline on March 30.

RELATED: Democrats Talk Housing, Unions and Education in Candidate Forum

The Lieutenant Governor‘s Race

Next up, Saunders performed the same style drawing for the lieutenant governor candidates. 

There are five candidates vying for this office.

First out of the bowl came Del. Hala Ayala’s name. Second, Saunders produced the slip for Del. Sam Rasoul. Third, he drew Norfolk City Council member Andria McClellan’s name. Fourth, Saunders selected Del. Elizabeth Guzman. Former Fairfax NAACP President Sean Perryman will appear last on the ballot for the position.

Two Candidates for Attorney General on the Ballot

There are two candidates hoping to win the attorney general position. They are Del. Jay Jones and current Attorney General Mark Herring. 

Chosen by the same method as the previous two positions, Jones will appear on the ballot first, followed by Herring. 

The Race in the 86th District

The board also chose to move forward with drawing names for several House races. The decision came despite not receiving all of the information from one candidate.

In the 86th District, Ibraheem Samirah’s materials were not yet accounted for by the meeting’s start. However, David Nichols, director of election services, noted that Samirah submitted mailing receipts as proof that he sent his materials on time. 

“It’s not that we know what’s in the envelope. We do have information from the candidate indicating a mailing – you know, copies of receipts and that sort of thing indicating a mailing – prior to the deadline,” Nichols said.

If the board did not draw names on Wednesday and they received Samirah’s paperwork later on, they would have had to schedule an additional meeting to draw for the ballot order in the District. 

By moving forward with the drawing on Wednesday, the board will not need to reconvene for that purpose. If Samirah’s documents do not arrive or contain inaccurate or incomplete information, Irene Shin, a nonprofit organizer also running for the seat, will be uncontested in the primary race.

Saunders pulled out Samirah’s name first, followed by Shin. 

Preparing for Both Democratic and Republican House Primaries

The 31st House District had three candidates file simultaneously for the Democratic Primary.

Roderick Hall, a transportation policy advisor, snagged the first spot. Guzman, who is also running for lieutenant governor, will appear second. Kara Pitek, magisterial district chair for the Potomac Democrats, will appear third. 

The 31st House District race also includes Idris O’Connor, a democrat and president of the Prince William Young Democrats. He submitted his paperwork before the deadline, but not as quickly as his three contenders. Therefore, O’Connor’s name was not in Wednesday’s drawing determining ballot order.

Saunders also drew names for the House’s 45th District for the Democratic Primary. Two candidates filed simultaneously for the race.

Del. Mark Levine’s name came out first, followed by Elizabeth Bennett-Parker, Alexandria’s Vice Mayor.

Del. Dawn Adams and attorney Kyle Elliott will compete for the 68th District, and in that order on the ballot. 

Saunders also drew names for the House of Delegates 9th District’s Republican Primary.  

First on the ballot will be Del. Charles Poindexter, followed by Patrick County attorney Wren Williams.

Bridgette Craighead, a Democrat and Rocky Mount business owner, is also vying for the delegate position in the 9th District. 

Statewide Risk Limiting Audit Certifies Election Results

Karen Hoyt-Stewart, voting technology program manager, presented the results of a statewide risk limiting audit to the board.

She called the audit, completed with help from VotingWorks, a great success.

A total of 122 out of Virginia’s 133 localities’ ballots received random selection for the RLA. The remaining 11 Virginia localities were not required to participate in the state’s first RLA. 

“The audit confirmed with over 99% confidence that the the original count of the votes accurately reflected the winners in Virginia for both the United States Presidential and Senate race,” Hoyt-Stewart said.

The sample included 1,372 votes for the presidential race. Of those, President Joe Biden received 756 and former President Donald Trump received 572. Jo Jorgensen received 25 votes. The sample contained eight write-ins.

“The result is a 0.00000065117% chance that the outcome of the presidential election in Virginia was inaccurate,” Hoyt-Stewart said.

The United States Senate race sampled 990 votes. Of those, Sen. Mark Warner received 559, compared to Daniel Gade’s 417. The sample contained one write-in.

“This result is a 0.00000424172% chance that the outcome of the U.S. Senate race was inaccurate,” Hoyt-Stewart said.

Amie Knowles reports for The Dogwood. You can reach her at [email protected] 

  • Amie Knowles

    Amie is Dogwood's community editor. She has been in journalism for several years, winning multiple awards from the Virginia Press Association for news and features content. A lifelong Virginia resident, her work has appeared in the Martinsville Bulletin, Danville Register & Bee and NWNC Magazine.

CATEGORIES: Uncategorized


Local News

Op-ed: I Vote Because

Op-ed: I Vote Because

BY DAWN RYKHEART, We Vote In Virginia we hold elections every year, and the years where there is no presidential election usually see less than 50%...

Related Stories
Share This