Randomized Alphabet

On the 82nd day before an election, the Secretary of State conducts a random drawing of letters of the alphabet pursuant to California Elections Code section 13112. The resulting order of letters constitutes the "randomized alphabet" to be used for determining the order of candidates' names on the ballot.

This alphabet applies throughout the candidate's name, last name first, followed, if necessary, by first name, then middle name. If more than one candidate's last name begins with the same letter, proceed to the second letter and, if needed, the third, etc., until different letters appear in the same position. If the second letter of the last name differs, the second letter of the last name determines who appears first on the ballot, according to where the second letter of the name appears in the randomized alphabet. If the second letters are the same, proceed to the third letter, and so on. For example, if two candidates with the last names Campbell and Carlson are running for the same office, their order on the ballot will depend on the order in which the letters "M" and "R" were drawn in the randomized alphabet drawing.

This procedure was established by legislation passed in 1975 in response to court rulings declaring that standard alphabetical order or incumbent-first was unconstitutional.

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