HAMPDEN, Maine — When poring over Hampden’s unofficial election results report for Tuesday’s voting, there were a lot of blank votes.
“Where you see the word ‘blank’ in the results, it doesn’t mean the ballots were blank. It means some of the votes were blank on the ballots,” said Denise Hodsdon, Hampden’s town clerk for the past 12 years.
Hodsdon explained that when a voter can vote for multiple candidates — as was the case, for example, with the town council election in which eight candidates were running for three available council seats — if they vote for fewer candidates than the maximum, the noncandidate votes are counted as blanks.
“So for that, if someone only voted for one candidate, it would count that person and two blanks,” Hodsdon said. “If someone voted for two, it would count two candidate votes and one blank.”
So with 12,687 possible town councilor votes and 2,735 blanks, that means 4,229 voters cast 9,952 votes for the eight council candidates.
Hampden will soon be replacing its current voting system — an Optech IIIP-Eagle system — according to Hodsdon.
“We’ll be using an all-new system next year,” she said. “I’m not sure about the specifics, but it’s my understanding that the new machine will capture a digital image of the ballots. “It will likely be the same one they rolled out in 63 Maine towns last month.”