What is Exhausted Ballot?

Definition and meaning of exhausted ballot: An exhausted ballot is a type of ballot that is not counted towards the final vote tally in an election. This can happen when a voter casts a vote for a candidate who has already been eliminated from the race, or when a voter casts multiple votes for the same office, which is known as overvoting. In some cases, exhausted ballots may also be the result of a voter not properly filling out the ballot, such as by failing to properly mark their vote or by writing in a candidate who is not officially running for office.

Exhausted ballots can have a significant impact on the outcome of an election, particularly in races where there are multiple candidates or where the margin of victory is close. This is especially true in elections where independent or third-party candidates are running, as their votes may be split among multiple candidates, making it more likely that some of these votes will be exhausted.

For example, the state of Maine uses ranked choice voting, in which the voters can rank candidates in order of preference. If no candidate receives the majority of first-choice votes, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated, and the votes for that candidate are redistributed to the voter's next-choice candidate. This process is repeated until one candidate receives a majority. In this way, exhausted ballots are avoided, and the voter's intention is respected.

On the other hand, not all states and municipalities have exhausted ballots. In some cases, this may be because the state or municipality uses a different voting system, such as plurality voting, where the candidate with the most votes wins, regardless of whether they have a majority.

In summary, exhausted ballot is a type of ballot that is not counted towards the final vote tally in an election. This can happen when a voter casts a vote for a candidate who has already been eliminated from the race, or when a voter casts multiple votes for the same office. Exhausted ballots can have a significant impact on the outcome of an election, particularly in races where there are multiple candidates or where the margin of victory is close. Some states and municipalities use different voting systems to avoid exhausted ballots such as ranked choice voting, which allows the voter to rank the candidates in order of preference.

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