Unused Votes Matter - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 2021545

Unused Votes Matter

Why do we call everyone who registers with a political party a registered voter? Are you a voter even if you do not vote?

According to the Brookings Institute, in the 2020 presidential election, 66.8 percent of all U.S. registered voters actually cast a vote. So, what happens to the other uncast votes? How do uncast votes impact the outcome?

Last November, I had the privilege to witness the processing of absentee ballots for Southampton Town. Volunteer Democrats and Republicans were paired up and assigned to work with a Democrat and Republican employee of the Suffolk County Board of Elections to witness and count each vote.

A fellow volunteer and I examined and were permitted to challenge any ballot. By the end, I was satisfied that every ballot appeared valid, and I accepted each signature. My counterpart questioned some messy signatures. I joked that these were probably written by doctors.

Humor and duty aside, I noticed a pattern that surprised me: Ballots with votes for Republicans were usually complete with a vote for every available position and routinely filled out with party-line voting — Republicans only. By contrast, many ballots supporting Democrats were incomplete, and overall fewer ballots reflected a party-line Democrats-only vote.

These observations led me to another line of thinking: Not only do Republicans vote more consistently for their party, they also vote more frequently.

According to the Suffolk County Board of Elections, the distribution of registered voters countywide favors Democrats over Republicans by a margin of 10.13 percent. That margin jumps to 20.53 percent for Southampton Town.

Nevertheless, Democrats lose some local seats and have stiff competition in townships where Republicans are outnumbered. The reason this happens is simple: Too many registered Democrats don’t vote. The unused votes matter.

If you change the way you look at votes by focusing on potential votes instead of actual votes, you will see that in any race where the margin of victory is smaller than the number of uncast votes, those uncast votes represent the potential that was lost by your candidate.

In other words, if you fail to vote and wanted a Democrat to win but the Republican won, you helped the Republican win by not voting. Your uncast vote was part of the total votes not cast for your candidate.

Please use your vote. It is important to every open position. Your vote matters.

Tracy A. Davey

Westhampton Beach