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Bingo-style lottery determines ballot order for Boston mayor, City Council

Boston, MA 071113 At Boston City Hall, Commissioners Ellen Rooney (cq) and Shawn Burke (cq), helped Geraldine Cuddyer (cq), right, Chair of the Board of Election Commissioners, who randomy pulled names of Boston Mayoral candidates to determine how they will appear on the ballot. (Staff Photo/Wendy Maeda) section: Metro slug: 12mayor reporter: Andrew Ryan
Geraldine Cuddyer (far right), Chair of the Board of Election Commissioners, randomly pulled names of Boston mayoral candidates to determine how they will appear on the ballot.Credit: Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff

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Onlookers waited eagerly Thursday in an auditorium at City Hall, an eclectic crowd of more than 60 that included campaign managers, political wannabes, elected officials, and city staffers curious to watch the theater of the big day.

Eyes focused on an antiquated machine atop a table. It was a gold-colored bingo spinner with a hand crank and a round metal cage the size of a toaster oven. Welcome to the city’s ballot draw, when democracy goes decidedly low-tech to determine the order that names will appear on the ballot this fall in Boston’s first open race for mayor in two decades.

Ballot order matters more this year than the past: 12 people are running for mayor, and 39 more names will appear on the ballot for City Council.

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