Many people may not be aware of what “undervoting” is, but in Baldwin County’s four county commission races in last week’s election many voters did just that - in a record amount.
Undervoting happens when, for whatever reason, a voter chooses not to mark a candidate in a race for a particular office.
While county election staff said the practice of undervoting is common in almost every election, the amount seen in the four Baldwin County Commission Republican races this year was something of an anomaly.
“It certainly was something that stood out to us when we were processing these results,” Probate Judge Tim Russell said.
In the Commission 1 race between Frank Burt and Jeb Ball, 5,389 undervotes were recorded.
In the Commission 2 race between Joe Davis and John Lake, 6,675 undervotes were recorded.
In the Commission 3 race between Tucker Dorsey, Billie Jo Underwood and Will McDaniel, 4,157 undervotes were recorded.
In the Commission 4 race between Skip Gruber and Jerry Johnson, 6,148 undervotes were recorded.
In each of those races, the amount of undervotes could have possibly created different results had those voters chosen a candidate, especially in the District 3 race where the incumbent Dorsey faces a runoff with challenger Underwood.
Russell said there could be any number of reasons why voters chose not to make a decision in those races.
“With some of the provisional ballots we counted, some voters chose to only vote in one of those races,” Russell said, pointing to three different ballots where only a vote was cast in the District 3 commission race. “It could be that they only wanted to vote for that particular candidate.”
Since the commission races were also on the back of the ballot, Russell said some voters may not have turned the ballot over and seen those races.
“We tried to make sure to get the information out there that there would be races on the back of the ballot to the voters,” Russell said. “We always strive to make sure all voters have the information they need to make the best decisions possible before they enter their polling places.”
Elections staff said it was not a county decision to place those races on the back of the ballot, and that the decision was made by the company who designs the ballots. There were a large number of Republican races on that ballot that created the need for some races to be moved to the back of the page.