The Over/Under of the city election

Many concerned citizens and poll watchers are baffled by the high percentage of ‘under’ votes in the past city election and the strange differences in many of the races. An under vote is basically a NON-vote for a specific candidate or measure. What is glaring is the unusually high number of under votes in some of the races, and virtually non-existance under votes in other races.


Mayoral race: 1.2% of voters voted for neither candidate.

School board race: 24.8% of voters voted for neither candidate.

At-Large ‘A’ race: 18.7% of voters voted for neither candidate.

At-Large ‘B’ race: 21.3% of voters voted for neither candidate.

Central District race: 15.9% of voters voted for neither candidate.

SE District race: 18.7% of voters voted for neither candidate.

Snow gates measure: 2.5% of voters voted for neither.

Spellerberg Pool measure: 1.5% of voters voted for neither.

Shape Places Referendum: 10.9% of voters voted for neither.

Walmart Zoning Referendum: 2.9% of voters voted for neither.

One could argue that the high number of under votes is attributed to voters not knowing the issue or the candidate. If this is true, it is disheartening that that many voters were uneducated on the issues and candidates. I think the Argus Leader and other media sources did a decent job of educating the public on at least ‘who’ or ‘what’ was running. I can’t imagine that many voters were that uneducated or even that disenfranchised.

There is another case that could be made. Just look at the high percentages in the district races. One could make the argument that many voters in those districts were given the wrong ballot, and knew it, so they didn’t vote for the respective candidate.

There also could be discrepancies in the way the ballots were tabulated. Remember, the auditor’s office had issues with the 17” ballots (the tabulation machines are used to counting a 14” ballot). It was proven in the Spellerberg hearing, from the testimony of Jason Gant, SOS, that there was no need for a 17” ballot because the city was not required by law to have as much legal language as they did. Which brings us to another quandry, why didn’t these long explanations help voters that were undecided to make a decision?

The under votes tell us a story here that something isn’t right about the high percentage of under votes.

It would be interesting for a statiticion to crunch the numbers and the probabilities of these high percentages.

How is it that 98.8% of the voters were sure about the mayoral race but only 75.2% of voters were sure about the school board candidates (with an incumbent running)?

I have no idea how these anonomolies occurred. I am hoping a college poli-sci class and professor study these numbers, but more importantly an investigation is done by the Attorney General and SOS state offices. Also internal and external investigations are done by the city and county.

It just doesn’t add up and the worst part is no one at city hall or in the auditor’s office is concerned about it.

Gee, I wonder why?


#1 Anthony D. Renli on 04.24.14 at 1:24 pm

Well – if you compare this to the last mayoral election – these numbers seem about par for the course.
In 2010 there was around a 65% undervote (19000 out of 29000 votes cast undervoted) for School board, and hundreds to thousands of undervotes for every other position.

#2 Anthony D. Renli on 04.24.14 at 1:26 pm

Miss-read the numbers – it was around a 30% undervote. (didn’t see that it was a pick two out of three on the school board elections)

#3 Sue on 04.24.14 at 1:58 pm

You’ve got a problem with your decimals. It should be Mayor 1.2% undervotes, Snowgates 2.5%, Spellerberg pool 1.5%, Walmart 2.9%.

It’s not unusual to have high undervotes on some races when there are hot issues on the ballot. Some voters just want to vote on one issue, like the mayor or snowgates, and they skip the rest of the ballot.

If your theory about the wrong ballots causing the undervotes in the district races is right, then why were there more undervotes in the at-large positions than the district ones?

#4 l3wis on 04.24.14 at 2:58 pm

Thanks for the correction.

Well, if what you say is true, it proves my philosophy that many people who vote in SF are very uninformed. We learned that in the EC vote 🙁

#5 Dan Daily on 04.24.14 at 3:41 pm

Corruption here has become worse than New Orleans & Charleston. Former mayors there paled in comparison. They’re now serving 20 years for public funds fraud.

#6 hornguy on 04.24.14 at 5:55 pm

You also need to consider that not every individual that votes in a race is necessarily well-informed. Is an undervote worse than someone filling a ballot out arbitrarily, or based on limited knowledge, or because they’re more familiar with an incumbent’s name?

There are a couple of moving parts in this equation and without isolating each and considering it individually, it’s hard to draw conclusions.

#7 BH on 04.24.14 at 10:05 pm

“Corruption here has become worse than New Orleans or Charleston.” Really? Really? What are your facts? Present your case, with the facts to the Attorney General. You make repeated unfounded accusations of this type w/o presenting your case to those that may be able to impact said behavior. Your allegations of fraud and assorted misdeads should fall on deaf ears of the readers. Put up or shut up. I get tired of your off the cuff accusations.

#8 Poly43 on 04.24.14 at 10:40 pm

Just look at the central district race. That says it all. Erp by 20 points? She can get 60% of the voters to swing her way when doing so is entirely against those voters best interests? Uneducated voters is the bottom line. I’d say 90% of those who voted for erp couldn’t tell us what T.I.F stands for if you spotted them Tax and Financing.

#9 rufusx on 04.25.14 at 8:42 am

Single issue voters – they are the reason the Repubs dominate SD politics – vote the R. They are the reason the NRA is powerful. Municipal elections are non-partisan and the NRA doesn’t weigh in. Without an R or D designation, and with no NRA literature to tell them who to vote for – they just won’t vote for anyone.

#10 Southern Exposure on 04.25.14 at 3:34 pm

Not uninformed, low information voter. It’s easier to gin up a single issue. The length of early voting and ease of voting locations has diluted the informed voter. The low information voter is disenfranchising the informed voter. Better government would result from encouraging voter participation as a right vs a responsibility. The electorate as a whole does a better job at exercising rights compared to responsibilities.

#11 Poly43 on 04.26.14 at 1:16 pm

All we heard before the election was mmm patting himself on the back. After the election? Not so much. From para transit, to SAM, to SNAP, to affordable housing for the poor, to even those who have discretionary spending money, mmm and his puppet stick it to us once again.

Tip of the iceberg.

#12 Scott on 04.26.14 at 6:41 pm

My parents have been season ticket holders from the first season. How are they rewarded? Just pushed aside.

#13 Dan Daily on 04.27.14 at 10:06 am

Yes, I make accusations suggesting the mayor is rich from lucrative city contract skims. He’s welcome to sue me so I can subpoena his financial data. He’s guilty if he doesn’t. I give my proper name here. I’ll be less critical if he’ll just move back to Sioux Falls from his palace on his own private lake near Madison. We need an honest working mayor who has enough courage to attend his own ethics hearing in which he’s appointed the board members. A mayor who doesn’t freely pass out ‘How to become rich from political service for dummys’ book gifts to the council.

#14 Dan Daily on 04.27.14 at 10:15 am

I give my proper name. STFU if you’re a coward who doesn’t.

#15 Taxpayer-Voter on 04.27.14 at 11:24 am

Poly43 and Scott,

The new EC is owned by the taxpayers.

Let’s see the “sweetheart” agreement that the City, on behalf of the taxpayers, inked with the Stampede!

The story is in the numbers.

And, BTW, southdacola, let’s also see the deal that was cut with Augustana and MMM’s buddy, Rob Oliver, for use of the Arena.

In addition, we as taxpayer-owners of the EC await the details of the upcoming Storm agreement.