Every under vote counts in Goodyear

Every vote counts, and in Goodyear, every under vote counts, too.

Everyone know what under votes are?


Using Goodyear’s latest City Council election as an example, say you voted for Brannon Hampton but you just didn’t know enough about the other candidates to vote for the remaining two open seats, so you left the rest of your ballot blank. Your ballot would contain two “under votes.” Goodyear considers those votes cast and adds them into the total vote count, which is used to determine majority.

Goodyear, like all of our West Valley cities, requires a candidate to get a majority of the votes (more than 50 percent) to be declared the winner in the primary. If no candidate reaches that figure, the top two vote getters move on to the general election, or more commonly referred to as a runoff.

Y’all pay for those elections.

Runoffs are common when a lot of people are running for multiple seats. It’s tough to get a majority when the vote is so splintered. Goodyear had five candidates running for three seats. Two candidates got a majority, filling two of the three seats outright, but none of the other three did for the remaining seat, hence runoff.

Not a surprise.

Until you do the math.

If the election had happened in Avondale, Buckeye, Litchfield Park or Tolleson, there wouldn’t be a runoff. Hampton would have won and you’d all be spared a second election, saving yourselves lots of money.

That’s because those cities don’t add under votes, or over votes for that matter, into the total vote count. Over votes are votes cast above the maximum allowable amount. Say you voted for both mayoral candidates (before you laugh, three Goodyear residents did), you over voted by one. Say you voted for all five City Council candidates who were running for three seats, you over voted by two. None of the candidates got your vote added to his total if you over voted, but the over votes counted toward the total vote count, that crucial number used to determine majority.

The race for the three City Council seats only saw 36 over votes, but under votes came in at a whopping 5,422! That’s a lot of “votes” added into the total, especially considering candidates’ vote counts only ranged from 5,653 to 6,094. That’s 5,422 “votes” that all counted against your favorite candidates who were striving to reach a majority to win the primary and avoid a runoff.

At this point, you’re probably asking yourselves why Goodyear adds over votes and under votes to the total.

Beats the hell out of us. Doesn’t make any sense to count illegitimate over votes or nonexistent under votes, especially when the city’s charter states: “At the primary election, any candidate who shall receive a majority of all the votes cast at such election shall be declared elected to the office for which he is a candidate, and no further election shall be held as to said candidate.”

All the votes cast.

After several conversations with the city clerk and public information officer, we were assured Goodyear considers over votes and under votes “votes cast.” During our conversations, we focused primarily on under votes since they affected the outcome of the primary and necessitated a costly runoff. The city’s PIO explained that when a voter doesn’t vote for an open seat, or under votes, he is essentially casting a vote to not vote.

Doesn’t make sense to us, either, but we thought you all should know the rules before you vote in another primary in a couple of years. Might as well get to know all the candidates and vote for every seat, because under voting as a strategy to give your candidate a leg up doesn’t really work in Goodyear.

And consider this, under voting in Goodyear could have even caused a runoff between the two candidates running for mayor. Say 100 people turned in ballots, and 50 voted for Georgia Lord, 49 voted for Jim Cavanaugh and one didn’t vote for either. That one under vote would have been added into the total vote count, preventing either candidate from reaching a majority.

Under votes count.

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