Monday, December 11, 2006

Write-in Votes Often Good for Chuckle

Montgomery Advertiser


Poll workers don't like them because they create extra work, but it would be a genuine loss if the call to eliminate write-in votes in Alabama elections were heeded. Fortunately, the quadrennial grumbling about them has faded a month after the election.

The official canvass of the Nov. 7 vote showed more than 12,000 write-in votes in the governor's race. It's worth a look at these votes -- some of them obviously cast in jest, but others perhaps reflecting a more serious point of view.

Among those receiving votes were some actual candidates. Loretta Nall, the Libertarian Party's candidate for governor, was left with no choice but to run a write-in campaign. Alabama's overly strict ballot access laws denied the Libertarians a column on the ballot.

Roy Moore, the ousted chief justice of the state Supreme Court, got some write-in votes in the general election. He was easily defeated by Gov. Bob Riley in the Republican primary in June.

Former Gov. Don Siegelman, who also lost in the primary, garnered a few write-in votes in November.

A couple of potential candidates got write-in votes. Charles Barkley, the former Auburn and NBA basketball star who has expressed interest in running, found some early supporters, as did former Mobile Mayor Mike Dow.

Some of those receiving write-in votes were, to put it gently, ineligible to serve. Ralph "Shorty" Price, recalled by older generations of Alabamians for his outrageous conduct and many failed bids for office, got some write-in votes even though he has been dead for more than 20 years. Former Gov. George Wallace, who died in 1998, was nonetheless the choice of some voters again this year.

And some prescient voters, perhaps sensing that he was soon to be out of a job, offered their write-in votes to Mike Shula.

Such socio-political richness would be lost if write-in votes were eliminated. That's too high a price to pay.

I personally got a good belly laugh out of the Hugo Chavez fan in Autauga Co. who wrote Hugo in for every race.

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