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Scrabble tiles drawn to determine ballot order in Alaska

Jan. 24, 2014 at 5:22 PM

ANCHORAGE, Alaska, Jan. 24 (UPI) -- The municipal clerk in Anchorage, Alaska, drew Scrabble tiles to determine the order in which Anchorage Assembly candidates will appear on the ballot.

Municipal Clerk Barbara Jones pulled a Scrabble tile bearing the letter "E" out of a Tupperware jar before pulling out the "N" tile Thursday, meaning candidate Bill Evans will appear on the ballot ahead of opposing candidate Pete Nolan in April's election, the Anchorage Daily News reported Friday.

Section 28 of the Anchorage municipal code requires names to be placed on the ballot in a random order decided by a "chance selection of each letter of the alphabet."

Dr. Jon Krosnick, a Stanford University social psychologist, said his research indicates the order of names on a ballot can have a large impact on an election.

He said swapping the positions of names on a two-candidate ballot can swing election results by as many as 3 percentage points, possibly affecting the outcome of the voting.

"Candidates gain votes when they're listed first," Krosnick said. "And they lose votes, relative to that, when they're listed later."

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