British Columbia

Who's on top? Vancouver will decide order of candidates on election ballot tonight

The worlds of sports and politics will intersect after a fashion at Vancouver city hall tonight.

Randomized ballots approved earlier this year; extra $235,000 is being spent to help voters with the change

The City of Vancouver will be using this bin to choose the order of candidates for the 2018 municipal election. (City of Vancouver)

The worlds of sports and politics will intersect after a fashion at Vancouver city hall tonight. 

A draft lottery will take place at 5 p.m. PT to determine the order Vancouver's 158 candidates for mayor, council, park board and school board will appear on the ballot next month for local elections. 

The unusual process is needed because this year the City of Vancouver has decided to randomize the order of candidates on the ballot, instead of the historical method of listing people alphabetically. 

"Under the bylaws, it's very specific as what must be done," said Rosemary Hagiwara, ​the city's chief election officer. 

First, each candidates name will be written on a piece of paper, read out loud, and  "folded in a uniform manner where the candidates names are not visible," said Hagiwara.

Each name will be placed in a red, wirecage bingo wheel.

"Then, the bin will be spun a few times, and then we start drawing names from the bin, and they'll be listed in the way the names are drawn," said Hagiwara. "The intent is to make it very transparent."

The process will be done first for the 21 mayoral candidates, then for the 71 council candidates and the 33 school board and park board candidates. 

"Excruciatingly painful" 

City council voted in favour of the change earlier this year and has budgeted $235,000 to help voters with the change.

"Research has shown ... candidates at the top of an alphabetical list are perceived to have an advantage over those lower down," said a statement on the city's website.

But the combination of more candidates for office than any election in recent memory, along with a lack of alphabetical listing, is causing concern it will be confusing for many voters. 

"It's going to be excruciatingly painful. There's no two ways about it," said Mario Canseco, the president of polling firm Research Co.

He said a survey last election showed 43 per cent of voters brought a list to the polling booth to help ensure they voted for the right candidates — a number that would likely go up this time around.

"You have a lot of names, a lot of people who might get confused. It's going to be tough for the voter to detail this. I think it will lead to a longer voting period in the booth," he said.

"The ballot is going to be roughly the size of a pillowcase,"

The city said the ballot would be 11 inches wide by 22 inches long. 

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