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October 1, 2012

Blank votes may show path of race

With last week’s debate offering a chance for Republican Sen. Scott Brown and Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren to voice their positions on the issues, there’s one voice that remains silent - but may be loud once the final election results are counted: blank votes.

In the Sept. 6 primary, Brown and Warren were unopposed. However, there were far fewer blank ballots for Brown than for Warren, which has some poll watchers looking with interest at the results.

For example, in Methuen, there were 2,203 votes cast in the Democratic primary. Warren got 2,099 votes, but Democratic voters left 1,006 Warren ballots blank, or about 45 percent.

For Brown, meanwhile, a total of 1,478 Republicans cast their ballots, with just 41, or 2.7 percent of voters, leaving the ballots blank.

Similar results can be seen in other Merrimack Valley communities, where 17 percent of the votes were blank for Warren in Haverhill, compared to just 6 percent for Brown.

In Lawrence, the difference was 30 percent blank for Warren and 3 percent for Brown.

Warren’s campaign largely dismissed the difference, saying there was “strong grassroots enthusiasm in the Merrimack Valley” for Warren, and that more than 1,000 people across the region “have signed up to volunteer for our campaign.”

The campaign’s statement went on to say: “In just the past two weeks, Elizabeth’s grassroots supporters have organized door-to-door canvasses in Andover, Haverhill, Georgetown, Lawrence, Methuen, North Andover and Wilmington. Elizabeth has been focused on reaching out and meeting with people in the Merrimack Valley since the start of the campaign and support for her continues to grow.”

Brown’s campaign did not respond to requests for comment.

Longtime Democratic political consultant Michael Goldman said he thought the difference in blank votes was a result of the fact that there was a Congressional primary on the Republican ballot, but not on the Democratic ballot.

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