Question about the order of candidates on Iowa ballots

Someone who poll-watched in a different Iowa county has informed me that the Republican candidate was listed above the Democratic candidate for every race on all of that county’s ballots.

My impression, although I didn’t look closely so can’t remember, was that in Polk County one party was not consistently above the other party on ballots.

It seems reasonable to require that the order of candidates be rotated on ballots so as not to give either party an advantage.

Bleeding Heartland readers, please post a comment or send me an e-mail (desmoinesdem AT if you noticed one party’s candidates being consistently list first on your ballot (absentee or election-day ballot).

  • order

    my impression from someone else was that the party with the most registrants in the county was listed first consistently on the ballot, but I could be wrong.  Other states do it randomly on each ballot.

  • just found this online…

    Under Iowa law, candidates for partisan offices on the

    ballot are listed in the following order: candidates of the Democratic and Republican political parties, followed by candidates of other political organizations, and finally by candidates nominated by petition.

    Under Iowa law, it is the responsibility of the County

    Auditor to determine: whether Democrat candidates are first and the Republican candidates second, or vice versa, the order of the other political organizations, and the order of candidates nominated by petition.

    The order of the candidates’ names for a nonpartisan

    office on the General Election ballot is generally

    determined by drawing lots.

    perhaps Polk County determines its order as stated above?  Independents are listed third and all others alphabetical by party was my impression in Polk County at least.

    • In JoCo

      Here in Johnson County the ballot always listed Dem candidates first, Republican candidates second, (since D comes before R) and then third parties in alphabetical order by party name.

      Honestly, I don’t see how this is an issue, unless there are a significant number of people who just vote for the first name they see on the ballot. And if there are, our political system is probably hosed anyway.…

      • ballot order has been shown

        to be important, as Bill Spencer says below. In a close election for a down-ticket race, something that influences even 1 percent of less-informed voters can be decisive.

    • it is possible

      that the Democrats were listed first for all the Polk County offices. I remember that Obama/Biden were listed first, but I don’t remember about the other races.

  • Auditor's Choice

    The county auditor gets to decide which party’s candidates will be first or second etc.

    It is one reason why electing an auditor of your party’s persuasion is important.

    And to think that ballot order does not matter is misinformed.

    Do a google search on “ballot order consequences” and there is plenty of academic research that proves you wrong – because it certainly can play a role – especially in down ballot races where people may not know as much about the candidates other than a name and maybe a party label.

    I for one believe that auditors should follow their own party – if you are a Democrat – put the Democrats first.  If you are a Republican – put the Republicans first.  If the other party does not like it, they better find a better candidate.

    Elections matter.  Never forget that.

    • Doesn't matter in the General

      Everything I can find suggests that it only matters in primary elections, for third party candidates, and for board elections with multiple non-partisan candidates. For most general election races, it matters very little. People just aren’t likely to vote for Gloria La Riva instead of Barack Obama just because her name comes first on the ballot.…

      Are we really going to game the system like this just to get the 1% of voters who are that stupid? Heck, let’s just go back to the days when we paid people to vote and only counted the votes we wanted to. Maybe we could register some dead guys while we’re at it. Whatever gets the Dem into office, am I right?

      In my view, we should make the office of auditor a non-partisan office, or a non-elected professional position. It makes no sense to have a system where the person in charge of counting the votes have a significant stake in the outcome.

      And I didn’t vote for the Dem candidate for auditor this year. I voted for the candidate I thought could do the job best, not just the one with D behind their name.

      • I favor rotating the order of candidates

        on the ballot. I know that is done in some states.

        I don’t have a problem with listing the major parties first, though.

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