In our country, voting is one of our most important privileges…and responsibilities! As individual citizens, we enjoy the opportunity to express our collective preferences for individuals to lead our nation, our state and our community government. Much is written about low voter turnout, so I won’t dwell on that theme, except to observe that during the recent primary election in Scottsdale, less than a third of our registered voters bothered to cast a ballot. That’s too bad!
The phenomena I do want to call attention to, though, is the number of voters who cast ballots discounted as “undervotes.” These “undervotes” represent the times a citizen failed to cast a vote for as many candidates as was allowed. On August 26, voters were entitled to vote for three candidates to fill three City Council seats, but literally thousands of voters failed to do so. In fact, “undervotes” were more than the total votes for any individual candidate!
Sometimes “undervoting” means a voter has ignored the City Council race entirely or maybe didn’t know enough about the candidates to make an informed choice.
Other times, though, “undervoting” is an intentional voting strategy…giving what is called a “single shot” to one or two candidates. The reasoning is, it’s better to give one candidate 100% of your support than only 33% by voting for three candidates. Mathematically, the strategy does gives a small edge to the supported candidate and might even help the favored candidate get the magical 50%+1 vote needed in the primary to be elected outright.
“Undervoting” might be strategic in the primary, but it’s not such a good strategy in the general election where there is no magical 50%+1 threshold to win. In the general election there are six candidates running for three Council seats. There will be three winners regardless of the percent of votes each candidate garners. And each winner, whether first, second or third, will have one vote of seven on Council. Given that reality, voters should cast their ballots for the three individuals they believe most qualified to join the City Council and represent the interests of citizens. No voter should abdicate to others his/her right to choose!
As we approach the general election November 4 (early voting begins October 9), I urge all voters to take the time to educate themselves about all six candidates who are running. Ignore the sound bites of negative campaigns paid for by “dark money” interests. Visit each candidate’s website. Talk to candidates one-on-one if you have the time. Attend a forum to ask all six candidates a question. Or watch the televised candidate forum on September 30, rebroadcast each Sunday through Election Day.
I always encourage citizens to learn more about me by visiting my website and reading any of the dozens of newsletters I’ve distributed on topics relevant to the issues of Scottsdale’s municipal government. Come to the open house I’m hosting Friday evening, September 26, at the Bonner David Galleries in Scottsdale’s historic art district. If my message resonates with your beliefs, please join my campaign. I would appreciate one of your votes November 4…regardless of your other two choices!