Q&AZ: Why Aren't Candidates' Names Just In Alphabetical Order On Arizona Ballots?

By Vaughan Jones
Published: Monday, July 20, 2020 - 6:01pm
Updated: Tuesday, July 21, 2020 - 7:42am

Audio icon Download mp3 (1.36 MB)
Q&AZ is supported in part by Sierra Nevada Brewing Company

district 5 ballot with candidate names
Christina Estes/KJZZ
A ballot for the May 21, 2019, runoff election ballot for Phoenix City Council District 5 in Phoenix.

Through KJZZ's Q&AZ reporting project, one listener asked: Why aren’t candidates’ names listed alphabetically?

The placement of candidates’ names on ballots goes beyond alphabetical order. It depends on the type of election, the city and sometimes even the precinct.

Arizona state law requires if two or more candidates appear on a ballot, precincts rotate the names of each candidate so that every name appears an equal number of times in every position.

Charters for towns and cities may call for a ballot draw, a public proceeding to select the order of candidates. It leaves the order up to chance, and was used in March’s Presidential Preference Election.

November’s general election will be ordered by political party affiliation. The party of the gubernatorial candidate who received the most votes in each county will be listed first. This means the name of the Republican candidate is first in Maricopa County.