With four write-ins possible, Election Commission does a write-in review

Published 8:40 am Tuesday, May 20, 2014

With several write-in candidates already announcing their intention to run in the August election, the Carter County Election Commission went over policies for write-in campaigns during its meeting on Monday morning.
Election Commissioner Tracy Harris said four candidates have already picked up paperwork to be considered as a certified write-in candidate during the August election.
So far, Chris Mathes has picked up the packet to run a write-in campaign for Carter County sheriff, but has not turned the paperwork back in. Donna McKinney has returned paperwork to be a write-in candidate for Circuit Court Clerk. Jerry Miller will be running as a write-in for constable in the Third District, and Vance Carrier will be a write-in candidate for the Tennessee House of Representatives.
Harris said in the May primary there were two write-in candidates. Scott Sams for District Seven county commissioner and Stacy Whitson for District Four county commissioner.
Sams finished in third place in the contest for the Republican nominations for the August ballot with 50 votes. He needed 25 votes to qualify for the third spot. Only two other candidates were running in the seventh district. Whitson received 20 votes and did not qualify for the August general election.
Election Commission Chair Doug Buckles questioned whether the commission needed to finalize the wording of the names for the candidates so canvassers would know how to count each write-in vote.
Harris suggested the commission adopt the state guidelines that the canvassers look for the voter’s intent when tallying the votes. This means close misspellings would be allowed or voting by the candidates last name, as long as the voter’s intent was clear by the write-in vote. Write-in votes that consist of first names only, a first name with last initial or a nickname would not be countable as write-in votes.
For example, for a write-in candidate named Franklin Baldwin, write-in votes of Franklin Baldwin, Franklin Ballwin, Frank Baldwin, F. Baldwin along with the correct spelling would count. Franklin B., Frank B. Frank or Frankie would not be countable.
Harris also explained to the commission that it was not up to the Election Commission office to explain the write-in procedure to voters, that instead it fell to the candidates running the campaign.
“Election workers are allowed to tell voters how the machine works but they cannot spell names or tell the voters who is running as a write-in candidate,” Harris said.

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