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Write-in candidates do not appear on ballot by name

By Staff | Sep 29, 2012

They are relegated to a single line on the General Election ballot, without even their name to identify them.

They are write-in candidates.

Statistically, they don’t have much chance of emerging victorious.

Frequently, they serve more of a function during the primaries than in November.

But they are candidates and so develop the face of the races on the ballot.

“They’re like shadows,” said Supervisor of Elections Sharon Harrington. “They’re there or not there. It depends on the light you shine on them.”

The rules to get onto the ballot are simple. Fill out a form during the qualifying period and tell Harrington she needs to put an extra line on the ballot.

“They can’t do much. They don’t collect money or open an account because their name isn’t printed on the ballot,” Harrington said. “They have to get out and talk to people.”

Some write-ins have every intent of competing. For others, their candidacy is for political reasons.

In Republican heavy Lee, Harrington said, many races were settled in the primary – the Republican primary.

Usually, they faced no contender in November.

A few years ago, a law was passed stating that if there was no other candidate on the November ballot, a partisan primary would be open for everyone to vote.

To circumvent that, parties would get a write-in candidate to “run” in November, thus closing the primary.

“The parties found a loophole. There are staunch people who believe that only Republicans should vote in Republican primaries,” Harrington said.

This has created controversy. Harrington remembered a few years ago, a last-minute candidate from Arizona overnighted the proper paperwork to prevent a county commission primary from being open, sending the Democrats into an outrage and media turning over stones to find out who the person was.

If you plan to vote for a write-in, Harrington said you have to fill in the bubble next to the line for that vote to be counted.

And a write-in candidate can be anyone. Harrington said someone always votes for Mickey Mouse or fills in his/her own name just as a lark.

Harrington did point out that write-in candidates can – and have – won.

The most noteworthy write-in victory was by Lisa Murkowski, who won the 2010 U.S. Senate race in Alaska, Harrington said.

There are plenty of write-in candidates from which to choose from, especially on the local level.

For the Board of County Commissioners in District 1, Cape Coral Republican John Manning faces write-in Gerard David Jr.

District 2 will have GOP candidate Cecil Pendergrass going against write-in Neal Moore and unaffiliated John W. Sawyer.

For Lee County Sheriff, Republican Mike Scott has a pair of challengers in write-in candidate Christian Meister and unaffiliated Lee Bushong.

The names of candidates running without party affiliation do have their names printed on the ballots.

For state office, in District 78, Heather Dawes Fitzenhagen of the GOP face write-in candidate Kerry Babb.

Nationally, write-in candidate Tom Baumann will vie for the 17th District U.S. House seat as GOP candidate Tom Rooney will battle Democrat William Bronson.

There are seven write-in candidates for U.S. Senate, none locally, while eight others are running for president.