Answer

Some people ask us why we don't just ignore blanks entirely and then advance the two candidates with the highest average scores to the runoff.

In STAR Voting, blanks are counted as zeros and the two highest scoring candidates advance to the runoff. This ensures that voter intent is preserved and ensures that the voting method is not giving an unfair or unintended advantage to less well known candidates.

The five star ballot and the STAR Voting rules are designed specifically to ensure that voters' votes will count the way the voter intended them to, by helping the candidates who voters explicitly chose to support beat out the voter's less preferred candidates. 

For the purpose of determining the finalists who advance to the runoff, if a blank was not counted as a zero, and if the average score was used instead of the total score for each candidate, then the system would give relatively unknown candidates with a few strong supporters an unfair advantage over well known candidates with a much stronger supporter base. This is why blanks in STAR Voting are always explicitly counted as zeros.

For the purpose of post-election data analysis, the number of candidates left blank, vs those explicitly bubbled in as a 0 does provide some additional data that could be interesting for campaigns, and could be published as part of the full election data analysis.

 

Q: Is STAR Voting committed to open sourced implementation? Q: How does STAR Voting help marginalized communities? Q: What's wrong with our current system? Q: Is this the same as Ranked Choice Voting? Q: Why bother with the automatic runoff? Shouldn’t we just elect the candidate with the highest score? Q: What if I give both finalists the same score? Q: Would STAR Voting cost money or save money? Q: What if voter behavior isn't ideal under STAR Voting? Q: Is STAR Voting vulnerable to strategic voting? Q: Why is it a 0 through 5 star rating? Not more or less? Q: Does STAR Voting pass One-Person-One-Vote? Q: Is STAR Voting constitutional? Q: Has STAR Voting been used for elections before? Q: Can we use STAR Voting for Presidential elections? Q: Can STAR Voting elect winners who are not majority preferred? Q: Are STAR Voting elections secure? Q: Does the League of Women Voters Support or Oppose STAR Voting? Q: Why is a blank counted as a zero? Q: Are STAR Voting ballots "summable," or do they require centralized tabulation? Q: Why doesn't RCV break two-party domination? Q: Wasted Votes?: What's the difference between an exhausted ballot in RCV and an equal preference vote in STAR? Q: Will voters bullet vote with STAR Voting? Q: How are ties in STAR Voting broken? Q: What is a preference matrix? Q: Does STAR Voting fail the Later No Harm criterion? Q: Wouldn't I want to "bury" a strong second choice and give a higher score to a weaker opponent to help my favorite win? Q: Is STAR Voting compatible with Electoral Fusion (aka Fusion Voting)? Q: Did the Independent Party and Democratic Party of Oregon abandon STAR Voting?