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Candidates' names rearranged on ballot

Tuesday, October 19, 2004 By Susan Fuller, Alameda Journal

Candidates for Alameda City Council and the school board are listed in the wrong order on the November ballot because of a communication failure within the Alameda County Registrar of Voters office.

The error moves Councilwoman Marie Gilmore's name from the top position to last on the council ballot and Vernice Boone, who says he isn't interested in the office, from near the bottom to first.

On the school board ballot, Karin Lucas' name, which should have been second, will be listed last and Boone, who does want the school job, is changed from last to first.

Other candidates' names were moved up or down the list to a smaller degree.

"I'm disappointed and dismayed," Gilmore said, "mostly because there was a snafu in the registrar's office two years ago in which they left some candidates' names off the list given to the public."

"It's unfortunate but once it's done it's too late to change," Lucas said. "I don't think I'm at a disadvantage."

An Ohio State University research team that studied the 1992 and 2000 elections found there is some benefit in being near the top of the ballot, particularly in nonpartisan races in which voters know less about the candidates.

Oakland campaign consultant Larry Tramutola disagrees.

"I don't think ballot placement means much," he said in an e-mail to the Journal. "However if you are not working hard and are hoping for luck, then it probably means more."

Instead of listing candidates in the random order drawn by the California Secretary of State, the Alameda ballot is in the order that candidates filed for office.

The ballot proof listed names in the random order and Alameda City Clerk Lara Weisiger OK'd it. Sometime later, the registrar's office changed the order.

Registrar Brad Clark said he questioned his staff about the order and he was told they called the clerk's office. Deputy clerk Lana Stoker denied receiving such a call.

Knowledge of the mistake came too late to change the ballot. Sample ballots have been mailed and some people are voting already, with absentee ballots or the computer system in the registrar's office. The database in the touch screen system is locked down, Clark said.

"I've informally looked into recourse," Gilmore said. "There's nothing I can do. I have to get beyond it.

"The larger issue here is does (the registrar's office) take this seriously enough," she said.

In 2002, the registrar's office omitted then-candidate Beverly Johnson's name from the list and she wasn't invited to speak to organizations planning to make endorsements.


Here is the corrected ballot positions.

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Last Modified: October 20, 2004

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