December 27, 2012
Daffy Duck, O.J. Simpson and Chuck Norris didn't win any seats in the Tuesday, Nov. 6 election, but they did get some votes.
In that election, some races on the ballot in Guilford County
allowed voters to stray from a predetermined list of candidates and write in any name they chose, and, in this year's election, as in past elections, the county's voters demonstrated a lot of creativity when it came to writing in votes.
Some voters used the opportunity to be funny, while others used the chance to send political, religious or personal messages to whoever might see those votes.
In the election, in Guilford County
, a lot of the usual suspects were write-in contenders. For instance, in every Guilford County
election, Disney and Looney Tunes characters, for some reason, are always popular with write-in voters. This year was no exception. Votes for Donald Duck and Daffy Duck were cast three or four times – and Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd also did well.
Snoopy pulled in a vote for soil and water district supervisor, and other children's favorites were well-represented – with votes in various races going to SpongeBob, Big Bird, Bozo, Winnie the Pooh, Papa Smurf, Captain Planet, Stinky (from the old Our Gang television series) and Sailor Moon, though the voter spelled it "Salor Moon."
Other fictional characters also fared well: Mayor McCheese got a vote, as did Spiderman, Optimus Prime from the Transformers movies, Santa and Willy the Whale.
Sasquatch – who got a vote in the at-large school board race – may or may not be a fictional character.
In a few cases, voters put an emoticon after their write-in choice to indicate those weren't serious selections.Guilford County
Board of Elections Deputy Director Charlie Collicutt said that county election officials have been sifting through the names to find cases where someone has received five votes or more. He said that's the threshold at which county election officials must report names to the state.
Collicutt said he can't explain people's proclivity to be funny on ballots, but he said there seems to be one very clear trend when it comes to write-in votes.
"A lot of people vote for themselves," Collicutt said.
The name of the person who casts a ballot isn't known by the election workers checking the write-in votes – but Collicutt said he thinks it's safe to assume many of the ordinary names cast were voters voting for themselves.
Some, such as Greensboro resident Ethel Albertina McGirt, wrote out their full names, while others, such as Kenny at NCAT (presumably meaning that Kenny is a student at A&T), only gave a first name. Some lazy voters such as "KSR," only put their initials, and one wrote in "Me."
Collicutt said that writing in a candidate's name is an option in non-partisan races that aren't for judicial seats. For instance, this year people had an option for writing in names for Board of Education and the soil and water district supervisor races.
Collicutt said partisan races fall under a different rule. He said that, in partisan races – such as for president or governor – someone must have submitted a petition at least 90 days before the election for there to be a write-in option on the ballot in that race.
In order for someone to have a possibility of winning a partisan seat as a write-in candidate, the candidate must have submitted 100 or more names of registered voters at least 90 days prior to the election. In statewide and federal races, a write-in candidate must turn in a petition of at least 500 names.
In the partisan races, only a candidate who has submitted a petition can win, no matter how many write-in votes they receive.
The only two write-in candidates that could have won in partisan races in Guilford County
through write-in votes were Virgil Goode, who was running for president, and Donald Kreamer, who was running for governor. Those two only got a smattering of write-in votes on county ballots.
Some voters use the blank space on the ballot to send a political message. For instance, in the District 9 Board of Education race, some of the write-in votes were cast for Anybody, Anybody Else and Anyone Else. Also in the school board race, one voter wrote, "None of the Above."
In the District 1 school board race, someone wrote in "Not Foster" – referring to incumbent Carlvena Foster. In the District 3 school board race, votes were cast for Anybody but Her, Anyone Else, Anybody Else and Anyone but Darlene – referring to incumbent Darlene Garrett.
Other write-in votes seemed to signal voter resignation. In the at-large school board race, one voter wrote in, "Accept."
In the District 7 school board race, a voter went to the trouble of writing in "Undecided" when it seems that simply not voting would have served the same purpose. Along those lines, "NA" got a vote in one race.
One voter in Guilford County
was so taken with our president that he or she wasn't content with just voting for him once; so President Barack Obama got a write-in vote on that ballot for the at-large Board of Education seat. Other candidates or former candidates did well in that race, with write-in votes cast for Bob Dole, George W. Bush, Ron Paul, Hillary Clinton, Rick Santorum and Al Gore.
One write-in vote for soil and water commissioner this year was cast for Kirk Perkins.
In a famous debacle four years ago, a transient with a history of mental illness filed to run for that seat using a fake name – the name of Commissioner Kirk Perkins. The imposter won but then skipped out of town before taking his seat. At that time, county election officials said that Perkins had found "a hole" in the system that allowed him to register using a fake name – the system was set up to prevent fraud in voter registration, but not in candidate registration.
Speaking of the soil and water race, Andrew Courts got a write-in vote this year. Courts was the second-place finisher in that 2008 soil and water race – however, Courts never got to take the seat because the board that had the power to fill the vacancy chose long-term soil and water board incumbent Herb Hendrickson, the man who came in third in that race, behind fake Perkins and Courts.
In Guilford County
there were also spaces for write-in votes in the presidential race and the governor's race. Alan Keyes, Bill Clinton, Colin Powell Mike Huckabee, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, Ralph Nader, Sarah Palin and Thomas Jefferson all got votes for president, as did Jesse Helms and Jesse Ventura. Also pulling in votes for president were Gaius Julius Caesar, Morgan Freeman, Underdog and country comic Larry the Cable Guy.
Celebrities, both alive and dead, were popular choices for write-in voters. Bill Murray, star of Groundhog Day, got a vote for the at-large school board race, as did Britney Spears, perhaps because her popular music video, "Hit Me, Baby, One More Time," features Spears dancing seductively in a school hallway.
Speaking of singers and music, many musical styles were represented. Grateful Dead front man, the late Jerry Garcia, got a vote, as did the late Bob Marley, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Rick James. (If dead people can vote, they certainly should be able to get votes as well.) ...continued on page 2