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Q&A: How is order of candidate names on ballot decided?

What's behind ballot order?

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How is the listing for the presidential candidates on the ballot determined? I would think that it should be should be alphabetical but it is not. Is there something I'm missing?

Chris Cate, communications director for the Florida Department of State, pointed to the state statutes for the answer:

Section 101.151(3)

(3)(a) - The names of the candidates of the party that received the highest number of votes for Governor in the last election in which a Governor was elected shall be placed first for each office on the general election ballot, together with an appropriate abbreviation of the party name; the names of the candidates of the party that received the second highest vote for Governor shall be placed second for each office, together with an appropriate abbreviation of the party name.

(b) - Minor political party candidates shall have their names appear on the general election ballot following the names of recognized political parties, in the same order as they were qualified, followed by the names of candidates with no party affiliation, in the order as they were qualified.

The impact of a candidate death

What happens if the presidential or vice presidential candidate dies: (a) between the nomination and Election Day; (b) between Election Day and the date of the Electoral College vote; or (c) between the electors' vote and inauguration day?

If a candidate dies between the nomination and Election Day, the parties' national committees decide on a replacement. Republicans may reconvene their national convention or have the Republican National Committee state representatives vote. If there is a vote, one candidate must receive a majority to become the nominee. Democrats also rely on their national committee to nominate a new candidate, but how it would decide isn't spelled out.

If the winner of the election dies between election day and the Electoral College vote, then it's up to the electors. There is no law that dictates how they must vote, so any change in the situation after Election Day could influence their votes.

Electors cast ballots on the Monday following the second Wednesday in December. This year, that's Dec. 17. The next step in the process happens Jan. 6, when the votes are announced at a joint session of Congress.

But when does the winner officially become president-elect? Is it Dec. 17, when the electors vote, or Jan. 6, when the vote is announced? The law is not clear.

If the answer is Dec. 17, and the president-elect dies before being inaugurated, the vice president-elect takes the top office. If the answer is Jan. 6, and the president-elect dies before Jan. 20, Congress gets to decide if the votes are valid. If the answer is yes, the vice president-elect becomes president-elect. But Congress could throw out the votes and put the matter before the House of Representatives, which would choose among the three other candidates with the most votes.

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Q&A: How is order of candidate names on ballot decided? 11/04/12 [Last modified: Sunday, November 4, 2012 3:30am]

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