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Undervotes Expected on Local Referenda Due to Ballot Length

Bobbie O'Brien
WUSF Public Media

Much of the attention on Florida’s 2012 has focused on the shortened schedule for early voting and the anticipated long lines because of the long ballot. But there’s a there’s also concern about the local referenda that could hit folks in their own backyard.

Because of the 11 Constitutional Amendments, some election experts are worried that voters will skip casting a vote on the local referenda at the very end of the ballot.

Hillsborough’s ballot is six pages, in Miami-Dade County it’s 12 pages long.  Voters will take longer, making the lines longer and shortening voters’ patience.

Hillsborough Supervisor of Elections Dr. Earl Lennard less concerned about voters walking away and more apprehensive about not going through the full ballot.

The presidential, congressional, state and local races are at the top of the ballot then judicial retention and the state Constitutional Amendments. The local referenda is last.

“I do have a concern that there might be a greater number of undervotes,” Lennard said. An undervote is when a voter skips a race or issue.

“Folks might say ‘Hey, I’ve had enough of this” and not vote in that,” Lennard said.

And those undervotes could affect the outcome of a large number of local referenda on the ballots in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Manatee and Sarasota.

Bobbie O’Brien has been a Reporter/Producer at WUSF since 1991. She reports on general news topics in Florida and the Tampa Bay region.
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