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About Overvotes and Undervotes

When votes are counted for an election, there are instances in which individual ballots do not contain valid votes. This can happen for two reasons: overvoting and undervoting. When overvotes and undervotes occur, it can mean that your votes are canceled or you do not cast as many votes as you are permitted to.


An overvote happens when you vote for more candidates than the number of candidates you are permitted to vote for in a particular office race.

Overvotes can only occur when voting on an optical scan or paper ballot voting system. Overvotes cannot occur when voting on a direct recording electronic voting system.

How to Avoid an Overvote

To avoid overvoting when using an optical scan or paper ballot voting system:

  • Be sure to read the voting instructions for the voting system used in your election district. Examples of instructions for voting include: "Vote for One," "Vote for not more than Two," or "Vote for not more than Three."
  • If you accidentally vote for more than the allowed number of candidates for a particular office, ask for a new ballot before the defective ballot is cast. If you have not cast the ballot, the District Board of Elections is obligated to provide you with a replacement ballot upon request.


Undervoting means that you cast fewer votes for a particular office race than you are permitted to cast. Unlike overvoting, you have the right to undervote if you choose to do so. No ballot or vote will be canceled as a result of an undervote.

Ask for Help

If you are confused as to whether you have overvoted or undervoted, please do not hesitate to ask for assistance from a member of the District Board of Elections.