The city of Vancouver is spending an additional $235,000 to address concerns over confusing ballots for the upcoming municipal election. There will be 21 mayoral candidates and 71 city council candidates on the ballot for the Oct. 20 vote.
It will also be the first election in Vancouver with a randomized order of the candidates’ names, instead of listing them alphabetically.
“We have heard that it will be confusing for voters and will take them more time to cast a ballot,” said Vancouver chief election officer Rosemary Hagiwara. “Will be adding more staffing and voting booths at all the voting locations to address these concerns.”
“We will also provide a sample ballot available in the voter’s guide which will be available in all the community centres and the libraries starting next week. It will also be available on your website vancover.ca/vote.”
Vancouver city council voted earlier this year to move to the random ballot to create a more even playing field for candidates. According to the city of Vancouver, research has shown many voters are more likely to vote for those listed first on a ballot. Candidates at the top of an alphabetical list are perceived to have an advantage over those lower down.
The draw to determine where candidates end up on the ballot is set to take place on Friday at city hall and will be live-streamed on the city’s website.
One of the concerns with the random ballot is that it will make it harder for voters who are less familiar with the English language. One suggestion that has been sent to the city is to put numbers beside all of the candidates, but the chief election officer doesn’t have the power to do that.
“We don’t have the ability to do that in the Vancouver Charter,” said Hagiwara.
WATCH HERE: Vancouver councillor wants to end alphabetical ballots
Political strategist Mike McDonald says this election is “unprecedented” because of how many candidates are on the ballot.
“With a randomized ballot, it is going to be harder for people with limited language skills to find names on the ballot. They are not going to be as familiar in English and it is going to be a real challenge,” said McDonald.
“Voters aren’t really aware that this is happening and when they get to the ballot booth, it could be very confusing on where they will find their favourite candidates. Any way you slice it, it’s going to be more confusing this time around.”