High Number of ‘Spoiled’ Ballots in Two Cicero Districts Speak to Election Importance

By Benjamin Roth, BDJ 464.01

Published on November 8, 2016

By Ben Roth SYRACUSE, N.Y. (Democracy in Action) — This election cycle has not been like any other and it’s only fitting that election day is different than any other. At Cicero Elementary School, there were more than 30 ‘spoiled’ ballots, just after 6 p.m. ‘Spoiled’ ballots are ballots that cannot be read by the electronic voting machine due to errors on the ballot, such as filling in too many bubbles.

While this may not seem like much on the surface, a high number of ‘spoiled’ ballots is significant because it’s not something that usually happens. A voting specialist at Cicero Elementary School, Susan Crowell said the high number of bad ballots speaks to how important voters believe this election is. “It’s unusual that there are this many bad ballots because we usually get two or three,” Crowell said. “Not upwards of 30. This means people want to make sure they get their vote right.”

A sample ballot in District 19 and 23 in Cicero

A sample ballot in District 19 and 23 in Cicero

Crowell said people would fill in multiple bubbles for their preferred candidate because the voter wanted to make sure with certainty their vote was cast correctly.

Some voters even went as far to verify their ballot. This means they would insert their ballot into the electronic machine and look at a screen to ensure the machine read their ballot correctly. This was another measure rarely used. “I think voters want to verify their vote because it leaves the voter with a peace of mind knowing the machine cast their ballot correctly,” Crowell said.

The electronic machine votes were cast

The electronic machine votes were cast

In talking to voters, many emphasized the difficulty of deciding who to vote for. One voter described the decision process as “excruciating.” Another described it as “terrible.” A common phrase voters used to describe how they ultimately chose was “lesser of two evils.”

One voter even went back to watch all the debates to study Donald Trump’s answers.