With Phelps County's General Municipal Election close at hand, Phelps County Clerk Pamela Grow answered questions that voters may have before they cast their vote in the Tuesday, April 2, 2019 election.
How are write-in candidates counted?
— When the same or a greater number of candidate names are listed on the ballot as the voter is instructed to vote for, no write-in candidate is valid unless they file, with the election authority, a declaration to be a write-in candidate by the second Friday prior to the election.
What if there are no candidates listed?
— If no candidate files or if the number of filed candidates is less than the “vote for” quantity for that given race, the number of valid write-ins possible equals the number of positions with no filed candidate. So, in a “vote for one” race, if no one filed, one valid write-in is possible. In a “vote for two” race, if only one candidate filed (and thus appears printed on the ballot), then one valid write-in is possible. In a “vote for two” race, if no candidates filed (and thus no one’s name is printed on the ballot), two valid write-in votes are possible.
Why are there write-in lines, when I’m told no write-ins are valid in my local race?
— Write-in lines are always present on general municipal election ballots in the number equal to the “vote for” instruction. This is because the ballots are printed six weeks prior to the close of the qualified write-in period. The ballots have to be laid out for the possibility of one or more valid write-in votes; the presence of the write-in lines does not necessarily indicate that write-in votes will be valid.
How will I know if there are valid write-in candidates?
— Polling place judges are notified of valid write-in candidate filings for their polling location. The candidate bears some responsibility, also, for publicizing their candidacy when they are not printed on the ballot.
How do I write-in a candidate?
— The name must be written on the line and the arrow next to the name must be completed; otherwise, it will be invalid. The intent of the voter must be clear. “Smith” is not clear; “Harry Truman” is clear. An illegible name is not clear. Write-in names, when valid, must be tallied by hand; legibility is important. Frivolous write-in’s (“Satan”) waste our time. This increases election costs and must be ultimately borne by the taxpayers.
Does every race on a ballot card need to be voted? What if a voter wants only to vote in one race, and not the others?
—The answer is that the ballot with any selections made (i.e., arrows completed) will have those selections tabulated. The other races, left blank, are ignored and recorded as an “undervote.”
Does every “vote for” instruction need to be fully followed?
— No, it does not. If a voter only knows one candidate in a “vote for two” race, or two candidates in a “vote for three” race, and would prefer to only mark those candidates they are comfortable with, the vote/votes cast will still count. Voting for one, when instructions are voting for two, will result in one candidate receiving a vote and an “undervote” being recorded for the other position in that race.