So how do you cast a write-in vote, anyway?
With Republican Jacqueline Smith now running as a write-in candidate for Summit County Council Seat C on Nov. 6, local voters have been wondering how the process works.
Absentee ballots were sent out and voting machines programmed with the names of the official candidates as of Sept. 21. Since that time, however, Republican Duane Schmidt has announced he is withdrawing from the Summit County Council Seat C race against Democrat Kim Carson, citing time constraints and health concerns. Upon hearing that Schmidt was dropping out of the race, Smith filed to run as a write-in for Council Seat C.
However, as of Monday, Schmidt hadn't yet officially withdrawn.
“Unless he comes in and officially withdraws, then he is still a candidate,” said Summit County Clerk Kent Jones.
Any votes cast for a candidate who has officially dropped out of the race after the ballots are written will not be counted, Jones said. “But right now we have three candidates.”
There won't be any signs at the polling places explaining write-in-candidate options, and their names aren't on the ballot, so voters will have to be aware ahead of time of any candidates running as write-ins. In Summit County, Smith is the only candidate running as a write-in.
“On the (voting) machine, there is a space to write in a name and it brings up a keyboard where they can type in the name,” Chief Deputy Summit County Clerk Ryan Cowley explained.
It is not uncommon for voters to write in names like “Mickey Mouse” and “Donald Duck” on their ballots, but any names not officially filed will not be counted.
“That's the reason they have to officially file as a write-in 30 days before (the election), so we know what names are official write-ins that do count,” Jones said.
Voters do not have to spell the name exactly to be counted, as long as the intent is clear, Jones said. In this election, for example, votes for “J Smith” or “Jackie Smith” will be counted.
When the ballots are counted, the County Clerk's office compiles the count for all the precincts and a report on the number of write-in votes.
If the total of all the write-in votes, including those for candidates who did not file, is significantly lower than that for the opposing candidate, the race is declared in favor of the opposing candidate.
If, on the other hand, the vote is close or the write-in votes total more than the opposing candidate, then the clerk's office will examine each write-in vote individually, and the total of all the qualified signatures will determine the winner.