I have analysed the RBWM results for those parties without incumbent councillors, who have a name recognition value, and found that out of 63 votes where more than one candidate for a party was on the ballot, on 50 occasions those higher up the ballot secured more votes. Furthermore, on average:
- The first candidate on the list received 13% more votes than the second;
- The second candidate on the list received 14% more votes than the third;
- The first candidate received 27% more votes than the third on the list.
This is not a new phenomenon.
- Studies have shown that having a surname towards the start of the alphabet makes an academic more likely to secure tenure, become a societal fellow, and even win the Clark Medal and Nobel Prize.
- In the UK in 2011, 161 local councillors were elected purely because of their surname.
- In the US being first on the list increases the candidate's chances of election by up to 5%
In future elections RBWM, and all other local authorities for that matter, should implement randomised ordering on ballots to address this bias.