Being the top name on an election ballot is no guarantee of a victory -- but it doesn’t hurt.
So Andres G. Pico, a candidate for Colorado Springs City Council District 6, had to be delighted that his got the top spot on the April 2 ballot in a random drawing conducted Friday by City Clerk Sarah Johnson.
“A lot of people just come down to slot No. 1 and check it off,” Pico said before the drawing.
There’s some research to back up the notion that being first on a ballot is an advantage. A 2007 study by the University of Vermont, updated in 2008, looked at the state’s House races over several years, and concluded that, at least in that state, “being listed first on the ballot had a significant and positive impact on a candidate’s vote share." In the 2006 election, candidates listed first on the ballot averaged 3.78 percentage points more of the vote than their opponents.
Other studies have reached similar conclusions, and if they hold true in Colorado Springs, it would mean that one controversial candidate, convicted felon Gary Flakes, could win. He will top the ballot in District 4 on the city’s southeast side.
The results could also favor three council veterans: District 2 incumbent Angela Dougan; former City Councilman Tom Gallagher, who is running in District 3, and Bernie Herpin, who is the District 4 councilman but is a candidate in the newly created District 5.
Johnson went out of her way to guarantee to the candidates that everything about the drawing was on the up-and-up. She explained the process, and held up a wooden box covered with mirrors and opened it to the audience “so you know there’s nothing hidden inside the box.”
The names will appear in the following order. If someone drops out by the withdrawal deadline of 5 p.m. Monday, the candidates who came after that person will move up a slot on the ballot:
District 1 (northwest Colorado Springs)
District 2 (northern Colorado Springs/Briargate)
District 3 (southwest Colorado Springs)
District 4 (southeast Colorado Springs)
Gary L. Flakes
Dennis R. Moore
District 5 (central and east-central Colorado Springs)
District 6 (north central, northeast, eastern Colorado Springs)
Andres G. Pico
David H. Moore