- Pennsylvania Among 'Terrible 10' Most Regressive Tax States
- February 4 Non-Partisan Training: HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013: HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
- Republican Governors Opt-In to Medicaid Expansion
- The Reports of Unions' Death Are Greatly Exaggerated
- Ask Allyson Schwartz to run for Governor
- Mind the gap: Opting Out of Medicaid Expansion Leaves Low-income Families Behind
- Jan. 14 Workshop:HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013; HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
- Seth Williams on Guns, Jasmine Rivera on School Closures @PFC Meetup Wednesday
- PA Revenue Strong Midway Through Year; Tax Cut Could Have Big Impact
- What to Make of the Fiscal Cliff Deal?
Leaving our government up to chance...
The ballot position lottery.
Tomorrow anxious candidates will gather in Harrisburg and city hall for what may be the single most important event of their campaigns, the ballot position lottery. In my race for common pleas court judge there are twenty-seven candidates for four positions. Candidates can and do win from the bottom of the ballot but to do that requires almost universal support in every ward. It is the rare candidate who can boast such strength. Conversely, a position at the top of the ballot can turn a weak candidate into a front runner. It is very disheartening to realize that my almost thirty years of legal experience and the five years I have spent building political support for my candidacy can be trumped by the fortuitous pulling of a number out of a hat.
The importance of ballot position may be even more pronounced in the council at large races. Will Marc Stier have the resources to overcome a position at the bottom of the ballot should the fates not be kind to him? Will Bill Green replace Bill Greenlee in Council because the voters see his name first?
The really sad thing about this is that the problem can be easily fixed. Simply rotate ballot position through the divisions. The candidate who is number 1 in the first division in a ward becomes the last in division two and everyone else moves up one spot. It may be a little cumbersome to set the machines this way but it is certainly doable. Even if the effort required was monumental, it would seem worth the trouble. Or maybe it’s not worth the expense. Maybe we should just eliminate elections all together and pick our leaders by lot. We could make a big production and put it on TV. Anyone who gathers one thousand signatures puts their name on a ping pong ball and puts it in the lottery machine. Voila- instant government.
If our friends on the state legislature get started on this now, we could have a solution by the next judicial election in 2009. Without the ballot position game the number of candidates running would drop dramatically. Many people are in this race just on the hope that they pull a good spot. Eliminate the advantage of ballot position and candidates would have to concentrate on gaining support on merit.
Anyway, good luck to us all tomorrow.