If some Cowlitz County voters had their way, Donald Trump, Smokey the Bear, Clint Eastwood and Cinderella would be holding elected office come January.
Those are just a handful of the names written in — apparently as jokes, out of frustration or both — on November general election ballots. All told, 7,117 “unresolved write-in” votes were logged by election workers as of Monday afternoon. (That also includes illegible and stray marks on the write-in lines.)
Aside from the problem of how to swear in fictitious characters such as “Big Bird” and “Dilbert’s Pointy Haired Boss,” several of the write-ins face a bigger challenge: Death. Former presidents Ronald Reagan and Franklin Delano Roosevelt — and his wife, Eleanor — all received votes despite being deceased.
Even among the living write-in candidates, there were some odd choices.
The presidential ticket of bad boy actor Charlie Sheen and cartoon icon Mickey Mouse, for example, seems a tad problematic. In addition to other challenges, child beauty pageant and TV reality star Honey Boo Boo isn’t even old enough to be sworn in a president. And Snooki of Jersey Shore fame might find it difficult to adjust to life as lieutenant governor with the lack of tanning beds and bar brawls at the Capitol building.
On the other hand, Cowlitz County commissioner meetings might be livened up if Channing Tatum — the actor in the male stripper movie “Magic Mike” —was elected, as one voter hoped. And kids might enjoy standardized tests more if Sesame Street’s Bert and Ernie took office as state Superintendent(s) of Public Instruction.
Joke write-ins are nothing new, said Carolyn Myers, the county’s elections supervisor. In general, they’re most common in uncontested races where voters assume their particular vote doesn’t matter, she said. Elections officials don’t encourage write-ins, but Myers notes they’re required to have a line for them for every race on the ballot.
At least one voter gave up on candidates all together this year, Myers added, writing “God” or religious sayings for every single contest.
“They gave up every race to do that,” she said. “But it is their choice.”
Not all of the write-ins are jokes though.
Former presidential candidate Ron Paul received 186 write-in votes for president in various forms of his name, presumably from his die-hard supporters.
“They gave up their presidential vote, basically, to make a statement,” Myers said.
Some write-ins might also be mistakes.
Cowlitz County Commissioner Jim Misner was written in for both the district 1 and 2 commissioner races. The problem is a) Misner wasn’t up for election and, b), he represents district 3. Kurt Anagnostou, the winner in the PUD commissioner race, also received votes in both county commissioner races, perhaps by someone confusing which kind of commissioner title he was seeking.
District 19 representative candidate Tim Sutinen — who got on the November ballot by launching a primary write-in campaign — was written in for numerous races in the general election, including president, U.S. representative, governor and state treasurer. Sutinen, a Longview resident who ran as an independent, lost his actual race to state Rep. Brian Blake, D-Aberdeen.
And then the are the no name votes.
“None of the Above” appears several times on the list as does “other,” “anybody else” and “neither.”
In the 3rd Congressional District, where U.S. Rep Jaime Herrera Beutler bested Democratic challenger Jon Haugen, one voter wrote in “someone with no hyphen,” apparently referring to the incumbent’s two last names. In that case the joke was on the voter: The Republican congresswoman from Camas uses both her own and her husband’s last name but no hyphen.
Another voter apparently gave up on the entire process, writing the following note on the presidential ballot:
“I will pray!”