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Friday, November 06 2015

How to Read Election Results

Hopefully, you checked our homepage on Tuesday night to see full Greenfield election results and watch our live Pioneer Valley results show with Chris Collins, Bill Newman, and Monte Belmonte.  We realize that, if you aren’t intimately familiar with the way the election process works here in town, you might have a couple of lingering questions about write-ins and blanks.

All write-in votes need to be tallied by hand, so the more write-ins there are, the longer it takes to get results---if they affect the outcome.  In Precinct 2 for instance, John Lobik, who was listed on the ballot, received 441 votes and there were only 134 write-in votes.  Therefore, declared write-in candidate Glenn Johnson couldn't have won, no matter how many of the write-in votes he received.  However, for the 3, 2-year, school committee positions, there were only 2 listed candidates.  In that situation, knowing who received the most write-in votes is essential.  Unlike with candidates listed on the ballot, however, the person who gets the highest number of write-ins isn’t automatically declared the winner.  The town clerk must call that person to ask if they will accept the position.  If the person says no, the clerk calls the person with the next highest number of write-in votes until someone accepts.

Blank votes are a different story.  Perhaps you thought that some of the unfilled numbers were high for this election. One thing to understand about blanks is that if you can vote for 3 people for a position, for instance school committee, then if someone votes only for 1 or 2 candidates the remaining openings count as blanks. For some races this means you can see blank totals that are as high as, or higher than, the total number of ballots cast.

Again, a good example of this is the results for the 3, 2-year, school committee positions.  There were a total of 4,451 ballots cast in Greenfield's election but, because voters could choose 3 people on this line, the total number of votes up for grabs in this section was actually 13,353 and that's how you can end up with 7,908 as the total number of blanks for it.

And now you know.