Candidates running in this year's local body elections in Whangārei will have their names listed in alphabetical order on the voting papers.

Mayor Sheryl Mai launched a failed bid to have candidates listed in a pseudo-random order at the council meeting last Thursday.

She directed councillors' attention to the cover page of the council agenda, and pointed out that their last names all started with letters in the first half of the alphabet.

A report presented to the councillors enabled them to choose between alphabetical, pseudo-random - where surnames are randomly selected and the same order used on all voting documents for that position - or random - where surnames are randomly selected and listed in a different order on every voting document.

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She said while the document states there is no evidence of any bias towards surnames at the beginning of the alphabet they had "a doozy" with all 14 of them with surnames "M or less".

"I would like you to have some serious consideration and to take away any potential bias in the letters of our surnames when they're in the voting documents."

Councillor Tricia Cutforth said she was happy "as someone who's name starts with C" to see a randomised list.

Councillor Greg Innes tried to move an amendment for the random order, but was unable to get a seconder.

Immediately, Councillor Stu Bell moved an amendment for the alphabetical order and was bombarded with several seconders, which prompted a burst of laughter from around the table.

"Just to be clear this is not for political gain, because I'm not standing."

He said the report said there's no bias, and it was simpler for electors to understand.

Councillor Sharon Morgan listed four reasons in favour of alphabetical - names can be easily found, names match the order in the candidate directory, it's the order and in local and parliamentary elections and the Northland DHB will have their candidates in alphabetical order.

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Mai said she had hoped a bit of a shake up could trigger something different, and get more people getting interested in voting.

Councillors voted to use alphabetical order.

Nominations for the elections open on July 19 and close on August 16. Voting papers will be delivered in the mail from September 20 and voting will close on October 12 at midday.