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Blank, Void, and Scattering

While writing today’s story about next week’s Democratic primary, I noticed that in the 2005 Democratic primary for mayor, 2,420 ballots out of 30,308 were discarded for being “blank,” “void,” and “scattering.” That’s nearly 8% of the vote. In the 2001 Democratic mayoral primary, the number of discounted ballots was 3,920 out of 32,888—almost 12%.

In Albany’s 2005 Democratic primary for mayor, 366 votes out of 15,330 cast were discarded as blank, void, or scattering. That’s just 2%.

I understand that in 2005, there were seven primaries in Buffalo: Four County Legislature seats were up for grabs, as well as the South District Common Council seat, plus the city and county comptroller’s offices. More races yield more ballots with blank lines. But that was true in Albany in 2005, as well: There were 11 primary races in Albany in 2005, but still only 366 bad ballots in the mayor’s race, which is generally the marquee event in any municipal election—the least likely to be left blank.

I checked Rochester’s 2005 Democratic primary for mayor, and found that exactly one scattering vote out of 21,200 cast was discounted.

Maybe 8% is par for the course here. Does anybody out there know?


  • Bob Kaiser

    NO RESPONSES! Come on this is a potential huge issue. Check the Judicial races the VOID?BLANK?SCATTERED votes are staggering.

  • Peter A Reese

    I don’t think this is a major problem. If you look at the blanks and voids for absentees, it is clear that many of the people who complete a ballot don’t really want to. I think to Board of Elections sends staff out to nursing homes and has people vote at their residence. Seems many may vote in order to get the BoE people to go away.