Almost 3 million votes have been cast in the Democratic presidential primaries for candidates who had already withdrawn from the race. Another 280,000 votes were cast in the Republican primaries for candidates who had already dropped out. We need an election method in which every voter’s voice is heard and no votes are "wasted". Stay tuned to this page for the latest count.
The biggest way for a vote to be "wasted" in the presidential primaries is when a candidate's name appears on a ballot after that candidate has dropped out of the race.
Voting for a withdrawn candidates is only one way that voters could feel their vote was wasted, or that they didn't have a say in the outcome.
Another second way for a vote to be "wasted" is if the candidate did not cross the viability threshold needed to earn delegates, typically 15%.
And thirdly, votes can feel wasted if a candidate appears on the ballot in early states, but withdraws before later states get a chance to vote. Early-state voters for those candidates felt that they were casting a meaningful vote at the time, only to find later that their preferred choice is no longer in the race and their vote is not counting towards any active candidates.
If we include all three possible methods of "wasted votes", the total is much higher:
Wasted Votes From All Sources: 8,131,726 (24% of total Democratic primary votes)
The blame does not lie with voters, who should be free to vote for their true favorite candidate, regardless of that candidate's standing in the polls.
Nor does the blame lie with candidates, who are sometimes pressured to drop out of the race and choose not to. Candidates should have the option to stay in the race and continue to influence the conversation and inspire their supporters, even if they can't amass enough first-choice support to win.
The blame lies with our "pick one" voting method. We need a voting method which allows for more voices and more choices in our elections, and an end to wasted votes.
Check out our tracking spreadsheet for more details, including state-by-state totals, a breakdown of the source of each wasted vote, and primary election turnout tracking.