On the 82nd day before the election, the Secretary of State conducts a random drawing of letters of the alphabet. The resulting order of letters constitutes the alphabet to be used for determining the order of candidates' names on the upcoming statewide ballot; it applies throughout the name, not just for the first letter so that Adams could precede Aaron.
Names of candidates for offices voted on statewide rotate by Assembly district, starting with Assembly District 1 where the names appear as first determined by the random alphabet. In Assembly District 2, the candidate who appeared first in Assembly District 1 drops to the bottom and the other candidates move up one position and so on throughout the 80 districts. This gives each candidate more than one opportunity to appear at the "top of the ticket" in his/her race.
Congressional candidates rotate within their districts with the lowest numbered Assembly district leading the rotation. State Senate and Assembly candidates follow the random alphabet but do not rotate; however, if a legislative district crosses county lines, the elections officials of each county shall conduct a random drawing to determine candidate order for these offices in their county.
This procedure was established by legislation passed in 1975 in response to court rulings declaring that standard alphabetical order or incumbent-first was unconstitutional since there is a 5% positional bias among undecided voters.