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Luck of the draw determines candidates’ ballot order in Washougal school board race

Jim Cooper will appear first on the ballot in the November election for District 1 on the Washougal school board.

After no one applied to run for the seat during filing week, Clark County Elections held a special three-day filing period to seek candidates. Cooper was one of two to apply for the seat along with Bill Durgan.

On Friday, the elections office held a special drawing to determine the order in which the two candidates would appear on the ballot. After filing week, the office holds drawings for each race, Clark County Elections Supervisor Cathie Garber said.

The drawing consisted of reaching into a bag of tiles; the candidate with the lower number tile would appear first. An elections staffed pulled number 104 for Cooper and 178 for Durgan.

Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey said the effect ballot order has on elections has been a much discussed topic, although it’s hard to really determine how much the order plays a role.

“Anything in elections is difficult to come to conclusions,” he said. “Every election is different. Every candidate is different. It’s not like medical stuff where you can have side-by-side comparisons.”

Still some studies have looked at ballot order. Kimsey said he and Jack Burkman, a former Vancouver city councilor, have looked at some, and found that ballot order matters more in lower level races where voters might not know as much about the candidates or position.

Darren Grant with the department of economics and international business with Sam Houston State University found something similar when he looked at the effect ballot placement has on elections in a May 2016 paper. He determined that “while the ballot order effect is indeed small in high-profile races, such as those for U.S. Senator, it is larger elsewhere; in down-ballot judicial elections it can be 10 percentage points or more.”



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