Florida official results: 77,400 voters chose 'none of the above' for president
When it came to choosing a president this year, 77,400 Floridians just couldn't make up their minds. Or didn't like their choices. Or got confused.
Either they chose no candidate or disqualified their vote by bubbling in too many candidates. Still others wrote in the name of someone who had not qualified as an official write-in candidate.
Although it's a tiny fraction of the total vote, it's also Florida, where elections are sometimes decided by margins of 1% or less.
While the official results certified Tuesday show 11.14 million Floridians voted in the November election, only 11.07 million cast a ballot for Republican Donald Trump, Democrat Joe Biden or one of the several other candidates on the ballot.
"My concern is that people are not understanding the directions for filling out a ballot," said Leon County Supervisor of Elections Mark Earley, also the vice president of the Florida Supervisors of Elections association.
The 77,400 nonvotes, or 0.7% of the vote, represent three categories:
- People who chose none of the candidates for president, known as undervotes.
- People who chose more than one candidate, called overvotes.
- People who scribbled in the name of someone who was not a valid write-in candidate.
"My guess is most of those were undervotes," said Susan MacManus, a political analyst and professor emeritus of political science at the University of South Florida. "I heard a lot of people say they couldn't vote for either Trump or Biden."
Those included progressives who thought Biden was too centrist and didn't vote for Trump, and moderate Republicans who didn't like Trump but didn't vote for Biden either, she said.
Both sides were worried about voters crossing over party lines to vote, MacManus added.
"It was a concern of both parties in their get-out-the-vote efforts, that nonvotes could make a difference and give an edge to the opponent," she said. "So I am really not shocked."
It isn't a large enough number to come into play in the 2020 presidential race in Florida, where Trump beat Biden by a margin of 3.36% or nearly 372,000 votes.
Mindful of Trump's narrow 1.2% or 113,000-vote win over Hillary Clinton in Florida in 2016, pundits and politicos had predicted a much closer race between Trump and Biden this year.
Both sides were expecting, at a minimum, a 1% gap between Trump and Biden, MacManus said.
Some expected even closer to the 0.5% threshold that triggers an automatic recount, as happened in the 2018 governor's race where a 0.4% lead that Republican Ron DeSantis had over Democrat Andrew Gillum triggered an automatic recount.
"Had (this election) come to a recount, that nonvote could have been a significant difference," MacManus said. "It was always in the minds of the people getting out the vote."
Contact Jeff Schweers at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @jeffschweers.
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