But where you appear on the ballot might be even more important this year, as the city moves to ranked-choice voting, which allows voters to rank their top five candidates.
So many of the City Council races this year have more than five candidates, with some seeing upwards of ten, so getting a voter to select a candidate as their second or third choice could be the only path to a 50.1 percent majority and victory.
Even the race for mayor has 12 candidates on the ballot.
As we noted in this column recently, with only so many endorsements to go around, candidates are actually accepting “second-choice” endorsements, as was the case for mayoral candidate Kathryn Garcia, who was happy to be chosen as Councilman Costa Constantinides’ second choice behind Comptroller Scott Stringer.
The reason where you appear on the ballot could be so important is that a lazy voter might just vote for their preferred candidate, and in the interest of using the opportunity to vote for four more candidates – or possibly because they think they are required to (you are not) – might just start at the top of the list and rank 2-3-4-5 in order.
Also, just as in elections that don’t use ranked-choice voting, having your name first on the ballot sends an implied message to voters that you are the strongest candidate in the race, which is why you are listed first.
Earlier this month, the Board of Elections determined the ballot order for the June primaries. Two men sat at either end of a table, one with a list of candidates, the other in front of a Bingo roller filled with 100 balls.
One would call out a candidate’s name, the other would give the cage a few turns and then select a ball. To avoid any allegations of impropriety, BOE recorded the two-hour-long process and threw the video up on their website if you care to watch.
So who got the coveted first spot on the ballot in this year’s mayoral primary? A candidate by the name of Aaron Foldenauer.
We have to confess, we never heard of Foldenauer until the man with the candidate’s list said “Aaron Foldenauer” and the man with the Bingo balls said “number two.”
Foldenauer is an attorney who has worked on environmental and civil rights issues, but near as we can tell this is the first time he has ever ran for public office. Now his name tops a diverse list of candidates, from seasoned political pros to newcomers.
So here’s how the names will appear on your ballot:
• Aaron Foldenauer
• Dianne Morales
• Scott Stringer
• Maya Wiley
• Ray McGuire
• Paperboy Love Prince
• Art Chang
• Kathryn Garcia
• Eric Adams
• Isaac Wright, Jr.
• Shaun Donovan
• Andrew Yang
So if ballot placement really does play – if even a small one – role in how people vote, then the presumed frontrunners, including the frontrunner in Andrew Yang, were pushed to the bottom of the ballot while the lesser-known, including perhaps the least known in Foldenauer, snagged spots at the top of the ballot.
We guess the Bingo balls don’t discriminate.