Franklin County voters undervoted in local races - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Franklin County voters undervoted in local races

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PASCO, Wash. -- The elections may be two days behind us, but votes are still being counted. Despite the high turnout this Presidential Election, the Franklin County Auditor, Matt Beaton says he's noticed an interesting trend of people under-voting.

Undervoting is when voters leave blanks on their ballot and only voting in some of the races. Beaton says despite the nearly 80% anticipated turnout in this presidential election, some local races were completely skipped over by voters.

Beaton says during the primaries in August, turnout was much lower at 33 percent, but undervoting numbers were lower too. He says its not uncommon for typically inactive voters to just participate in the presidential election. He says this year a lot more people participated in two specific initiatives, dealing with same sex marriage and legalizing marijuana. In 2008, as many as 5% of the initiatives were skipped over.

"So the interest is all in the presidential race. and so if all those new entries into the presidential race only got involved in the presidential race, that would move that statistical number up," said Beaton.

One of the biggest differences can be seen in the Commissioner Races for Franklin County. In 2008, the races for Commissioner 1 and Commissioner 2 had a big spread in undervotes. Seat 1, filled with Brad Peck only had a 5.4% undervote. In 2012, that number jumped to 12.46%.

It was more consistent with Commissioner 2 seat filled with Bob Koch.12 5% in 2008 and 12.89% in 2012. That currently adds up to a little more than 2,000 Franklin County residents leaving blanks.  It is important to note, that the number only reflect 16,217 ballots counted.

Beaton says often times the lower a race is on the ballot, the more likely it will be skipped over. Also, candidates who run unopposed often have the highest level of undervotes, Beaton says about one in five voters fail to fill in their ballots on those races.

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