Meriden's Registrar of Voters held its annual lottery Tuesday at 5 p.m. to decide where the names of candidates for City Council At Large and Board of Education seats would go on the November 2011 ballot.
The placement of candidates in head-to-head races for Mayor and Areas 1-4 of the City Council is automatically set, but not for those in races where voters are asked to select two or more candidates from a large group – like At Large and BOE. These are decided by the lottery.
On Tuesday evening, candidate names on slips of paper were wrapped up in pill bottles and placed in a basket. The handful of officials and candidates in attendence reached into a basket to blindly pull the bottles for the slots.
When they were done, the final ballot for November looked like this:
City Council At Large
Board of Education
Democrat Row A
Robert Kosienski Jr.
Republican Row B
Robert Kosienski Jr.
We The People
Why Does it Matter Where the Names are?
Well, it shouldn't, according to Republican Registrar Lillian Soboleski, but it does.
Regardless of positioning, on election day, Meriden voters will be able to choose any two of the four At Large candidates, and any four of the Board of Education Candidates. (Currently there are only four candidates on the Board of Education ballot after a We The People Candidate dropped out of the running. If the third party does not replace him, each candidate listed will be elected.)
But because voters are used to picking one person per column in head-to-head races like Mayor and Area 1-4 city council slots, many misinterpret the ballot, acording to Soboleski, and presume they have to choose only one per column.
So although John Thorp (D) is not running just against Walter Shamock (W), who is in the same row, but technically Shamock, David Lowell (D), and Kevin Scarpati (R), many voters, registrars say, will likely presume that they have to choose between Thorp and Shamock and then Lowell and Scarpati.
How is the party order decided?
The two major parties are always first and second, followed by any third parties, Soboleski said. The party of the presiding governor nets the top row.
Which is a change long-time voters have to watch out for as well in the voting booth. For the first time in 20 years, Democrats have the top slot because Dannel Malloy is the first Democratic Governor in Connecticut elected since 1991.