I have been meaning to mention this topic for a few weeks now, given that my sister is having a hard time deciding who and whether to vote for president in 2008 (she likes Obama’s style but thinks McCain might be closer to her ideology, if still a flawed candidate and messenger). So she might be an “undervote” this year – someone who casts a ballot but fails to mark a vote for President.
Another recent incident of this phenomenon was in the UF elections just concluded last week. Of the 8,129 ballots cast (a measely 16.5% of the student body), just over 7800 cast votes for Student Body President. That alone is not unusual – there usually is about 200-300 undervotes for President, Treasurer, and Senator. Often times it’s just folks who don’t know anyone running, or can’t decide, so they skip the race.
What I thought was interesting in the detailed results was where this 4% undervote came from. A whopping 26% of the Law students casting a ballot skipped the presidential race. Likewise, about 10% of the New Engineering Building voters and 6% of Shands voters opted not to vote. Some of this might be the weakness of the opposition party to convince its base voters to stick with them. At the Law School, the losing independent Senate candidate may have drawn voters to the polls to vote for him and no one else. And at Shands, a lot of Senate candidates went unopposed, so the undervote may be a result of the imbalance among campaigners.
I’m not sure that says much of anything useful for the long-term, except that the SG elections should be better advertised, better covered by the Alligator, and made more meaningful to all 50,000 UF students, but especially the law and engineering students who just didn’t care.
Hopefully, in the “real” presidential race in November, voters like my sister will have made up their minds and not “undervote” when the time comes to make their silent voices heard.