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05/29/2024 02:19 AM
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: August 12, 2021 03:26 PM
From: Representative Jared G. Solomon
To: All House members
Subject: Randomized Ballot Positions
In the near future, I will introduce legislation to amend our Election Code to randomize the order of candidates listed on primary ballots.
Currently, ballot positions are chosen by drawing lots- basically a toss of a coin or a high-stakes game of drawing straws. Numerous studies have shown that a candidate whose name is listed first on a ballot is likely to receive significantly more votes than other candidates. In fact, one study conducted by the Department of Economics and International Business at Sam Houston State University in 2014 found that changing a candidate’s name from appearing last to appearing first on a ballot can raise that candidate’s vote share by as many as 10 percentage points.
Voter turnout is generally lower in state elections than those on the national level, and when voters are faced with a plethora of unfamiliar names, many voters will simply select the first name on the ballot. In close races, this seemingly minor detail can tip the outcome decisively in a candidate’s favor.
Under our proposed legislation, the Secretary of the Commonwealth and the county boards would establish a method to print the names of primary candidates randomly on ballots and to rotate them randomly. This simple change would strengthen democracy in Pennsylvania by eliminating unfair advantages based on ballot position.
Please consider joining me in making our democracy fairer for all Pennsylvanians.

Introduced as HB1838