Connecticut Supreme Court Will Decide Which Party Should be Listed First on Ballots

The Connecticut Supreme Court has accepted jurisdiction in Republican Party of Connecticut v Merrill. Oral argument will be held on September 12. Connecticut law says the party that polled the most votes for its gubernatorial candidate should be listed first on the ballot. The Republican Party received more votes than any other party for Governor in 2010, but the Secretary of State, who is a Democrat, put the Democratic Party first on the ballot because she adds the votes of the Democratic Party and the Working Families Party together, and that sum is greater than the Republican Party vote total.

Connecticut ought to have a law that provides for either rotation, or random selection, to determine order of parties on the ballot. Approximately one-third of the states do have a policy that gives all parties a chance to appear first on the ballot.


  1. Connecticut’s law (9-249a) states that the top row goes to “The party whose candidate for Governor polled the highest number of votes in the last-preceding election.”

    The New York law (7-116), which the Republican Party referred to in its initial complaint, reads that the top row goes to “the party which polled for its candidate for the office of governor at the last preceding election for such office the highest number of votes”.

    There is a clear difference in the two statutes, and the Republicans don’t seem to have a serious claim on the top line in Connecticut. However, as the sitting governor was a cross-endorsed candidate, it does give the minor party (Working Families) a colorable case for placement on the first or second line, if they care to make it.

  2. citizen1 · · Reply

    The WFP does not have a claim on the second line but could make a claim on the first line using the Dems argument. If a major party can use votes on another party line for ballot position with can’t a minor party use votes on another party line for ballot access?

  3. Richard Winger · · Reply

    In 1938, the Republican Party nominee for Governor of Connecticut was cross-endorsed by the Union Party. The Democratic Party gubernatorial candidate, Wilbur Cross, lost the election, but the Democratic Party polled more votes on its line than either the Republican Party or the Union Party polled on their lines. The Secretary of State then put the Democratic Party on the top line in the 1940 election. So there is Connecticut precedent that the current Connecticut Secretary of State is wrong.

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