AVON PARK — Voters in Avon Park had seven candidates to choose from in Tuesday’s election to fill three City Council seats, but there was a high number of undervotes.
Voters could have chosen up to three candidates, but apparently some either skipped voting on the council election entirely or only voted for one or two candidates.
Highlands County Election Assistant Supervisor Karen Kensinger said there were 6,317 votes cast in the race. That is not the number of people who voted, but the total number of votes cast for all seven of the candidates.
There were 2,143 undervotes, according to the unofficial results, Kensinger said.
By comparison, the governor’s race had about 39,762 votes cast in Highlands County with only 256 undervotes.
Kensinger said she could not provide the number of ballots where voters had voted for one candidate, two candidates or no candidates because the system is not set up to show that. It accumulates the undervotes.
If a person left the City Council election blank and didn’t select any candidates, it would be counted as three undervotes, she noted.
Maria Sutherland, who won her bid for a council seat, said she noticed the large number of undervotes.
“When you have a very politically charged environment, like we do in Avon Park, I think that people just vote for one,” she said. So no one else can get the votes.
That has been a political voting mechanism that people use just so they get that one person in, Sutherland said. “Whether it works for any particular candidate, we will never know.”
Deputy Mayor Brenda Gray, who was re-elected with the largest vote total, said she noticed the large number of undervotes but couldn’t comment on it because she did not know the reason for it.
Stanley Spurlock, who also was elected to a council seat, said he noticed the large undervote.
“I can’t figure that out to save my life other than people just had one person in mind that they were going to vote for and that is all they were going to do,” he said. “I think maybe they felt like if they voted for somebody else it would help somebody else or hurt their candidate so they didn’t want to do that and that’s the reason for that [undervote].”