Officials set to write the rules on the right write-in names

Published 9:23 am Tuesday, July 29, 2014

All election officials are focused on the citizens’ right to vote during the upcoming election, but in Carter County, they also have to be concerned with citizens’ “write” to vote.
And if voters decide to punch in a write-in name instead of pushing an official ballot button, Administrator of Elections Tracy Harris says they need to know how and what they can write and still have their vote count on Election Day.
Because there are several opportunities on the Aug, 7 ballot for write-in options, the issue will be the focus of a called meeting of the Carter County Election Commission next Monday at 8 a.m.
Under state law, the local commission must approve a list of acceptable spellings for each write-in candidate. Harris said she prepared a list and submitted it to the State Election Commission for approval. Once the state reviews and approves the list, it is returned to the county and must be approved by the county Election Commission, Harris said.
When a voter casts a write-in vote for a candidate, he or she doesn’t have to spell the name correctly, but the election officers counting the votes must be able to determine the voter’s intent. The list to be approved during the called meeting will be what election workers go by as they count write-in votes on election night.
For a write-in vote to count, the name as entered by the voter must be on the approved list of acceptable spellings.
For example, if John Smith is running a write-in campaign, the following votes would be countable: John Smith; Johnny Smith; Johnnie Smith; John Smyth; John Smythe; J. Smith; or Smith. However, votes for John; Johnny; or John S. would not be countable as votes for John Smith.

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