Write-ins reflect angst, humor among voters

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

ALBANY, Ga. -- While voters were casting ballots Tuesday to shape local, state and congressional leadership, more than 1,750 votes were cast for various people -- both real and mythical -- written in by voters.

The write-ins, while insignificant in most cases because there were no official write-in candidates according to Elections Supervisor Ginger Nickerson, do reflect the angst shared by many voters disillusioned with the current electoral system who are faced with voting for what they view as the lesser of two evils.

In the race for governor, for instance, 41 wrote-in a name for someone rather than vote for either Republican Nathan Deal, Democrat Roy Barnes or Libertarian John Monds and the written-in names are telling.

Wishing to vote Republican but apparently unhappy with Nathan Deal as the nominee, one voter, who is registered at the Covenant Presbyterian Church precinct, wrote-in "A Republican," while five voters from various precincts wrote-in former Secretary of State Karen Handel, who lost the primary to Deal.

Then there was the simple request of one Merry Acres Middle School voter who wrote-in "Someone Else."

The names for candidates range from the silly -- Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse and Santa Claus -- to the intriguing -- school board member James Bush received 12 write-in votes for Dougherty County Commission Chairman, while local businessman Bo Henry received three votes for the position.

Some chose to use the space to make political statements. In the House 150 race between longtime incumbent Democrat Winfred Dukes and Republican challenger Karen Kemp, one write-in voter wrote in "God Help Us."

Speaking of God, he, along with Jesus, received write-in votes. God picked up votes for the county commission and, aptly enough, for state Supreme Court justice. Jesus also picked up a few votes, namely for state senate district 12.

While most of the write-in votes are harmless to the electoral process, some could argue that in tight races were every vote counts, voters who choose to write-in names rather than actually vote for a candidate could strip candidates from highly-coveted votes.

In the U.S. House District 2 race, which incumbent Sanford Bishop won by 4,500 votes over Mike Keown, ten voters wrote-in names rather than chose either candidate, including "someone" and "other."

At least one race, that for the local seat on the Soil and Water Conservation Commission, had no qualified candidates but did manage to attract several write-ins.

From God to Bo Henry, Georgia Soil and Water Conservation Commission Elections Director Cynthia Wilbur says that the write-ins won't be allowed to serve because they weren't qualified write-in candidates.

"Even though they may have been write-ins, there is a qualification process for them as well," she said with a chuckle.

That local seat has been vacant since 2006 and will likely be filled through an appointment in the interim.

After one voter wrote in "make sure that the Flint River stays clean all the time," Wilbur said that the state officials share the apparent sentiment of the local voters.

Even those in sports and entertainment managed to work themselves into the fray.

Newly-minted World Series Champion San Francisco Giants Catcher Buster Posey received a vote for the District 12 Senate seat, as did Comedy Central's Daily Show host Jon Stewart.