What’s in a name? Local presidential write-ins include Elmer Fudd and Alfred E. Neuman

By on January 11, 2017
Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson was one of the many unusual local write-in votes in the presidential election.

Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson was one of the many unusual local write-in votes in the presidential election.

Judging by the flood of post-election media coverage, it appears the 2016 presidential race has never truly ended.

Despite Donald Trump’s election upset two months ago, some voters this week purchased a full-page New York Times ad urging millions to rise up to oppose the new elected president.

Unfortunately for them, the election is over and only votes cast on or before Nov. 8 are included in the official tally.

However, some ballots on Election Day are not counted – at least not in the traditional sense – as many voters chose to  cast votes on often obscure, sometimes arcane, and ultimately  inconsequential  write-in candidates

Write-in votes, though recorded and compiled, “are considered irregular ballots, ”according to Lancaster County Chief Registrar Randall Wenger, an Elizabeth Township resident.

!!! election1That definition is spelled out under Pennsylvania’s election code’s “Manner of computing irregular ballots,” Wenger said.

There were 7,228 write-in votes in the county to reconcile during “the official count and canvass” of the 2016 presidential election, he said, and 15,228 in the 2016 primary.

“Individuals have a right to cast their vote for the person of their choice, even if they are not on the ballot, and we report those names,” said Wenger.

In our region, there were 114 write-in voters in Warwick Township, 52 in Lititz, and 20 each in Elizabeth Township and Manheim Borough.

There were several dozen of the expected write-ins, such as Bernie Sanders, Mike Pence and Ben Carson, and plenty of misspellings of Evan McMullin (more than a dozen different ways). The former CIA agent and chief policy director for the House Republican conference entered as a write-in candidate in early August.

Write-in votes cast for Ohio Governor and Trump foe John Kasich were entered with more than 20 different spelling and grammatical variations.

Some of our readers offered observations on why voters chose write-in candidates this year.

“In a year when Donald Trump got elected president, I don’t know if write-ins can be considered not taking the election process seriously,” wrote  James Nies of Lititz.

Mark Freeman noted that “when the two parties put forward candidates who are so disliked, it points to a need for true competition by viable third parties.”

“No one else was allowed to debate with the two parties,” he said. “We are told our votes are wasted unless we vote for people we don’t believe in. Until we break the monopoly in DC, we will be forced to accept the lesser of two evils.”

While just outside of the Lititz Record Express’ coverage area, an Akron voter cast an unexpected honor for Lititz Fourth of July Committee Chairman Tim Reedy.

And there were the usuals — Mickey Mouse, Alfred E. Neuman, and Elmer Fudd.

A couple head-scratchers cast from Third Ward Lititz voters included Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse and Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz.

A NASCAR fan from the Second Ward, Second Precinct voted for Tony Stewart; a Dallas Cowboy’s fan from Akron voted for Tony Romo; and a Phillies fan from Rothsville cast a vote for Chase Uttley.

A single write-in ballot entry cast from a Lititz voter in the First Ward, First Precinct correctly spelled Karl Marx, whose Communist Manifesto, written in 1848, inspired revolutionary socialists and influenced the Russian Revolution.

Someone in the Lititz’s First Ward, First Precinct cast an interesting vote for “Ron Ottel Pence.” This voter may have been inspired by a 2 p.m. phone call to Lititz Fire Chief Ron Oettel on Oct. 5 which left him scrambling to set up a visit from the (now) vice president elect that afternoon in Lititz.

“I have something top secret to say,” the caller started, “and you cannot reveal it to anyone,” Oettel said. He then learned Donald Trump’s Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence would arrive in Lititz in “two hours.”

Pence actually earned several write-in votes from Lititz and Warwick and Elizabeth townships.

“Barak Obama” received two votes, including one from a Warwick Township resident in the Woodcrest District.

One Warwick Township voter in the Newport West District decided to write-in David Duke’s name.

Mindy Fee was named on a write-in vote cast by a Lancaster City resident. John Kerry, John McCain, and Joe Biden each received one vote each from Warwick Township residents, while Michael Bloomberg received a pair.

Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson earned a pair of votes, including a write-in from a Warwick Township voter in the Woodcrest District.

Other write-ins associated with the entertainment business were cast for Troy Clair, president and chief executive of Clair Global in Lititz, and rock legend Alice Cooper.

A video game enthusiast from Warwick’s Brunnerville District added another animated character to the write-in list by casting a vote for Ulfric Stormcloak, the Jarl of Windhelm and leader of the Stormcloak rebellion.

Ulfric was one of many names we had to look up, and we still came away puzzled. If you want to search Lancaster County write-in votes cast in the 2016 presidential election, go to: http://vr.co.lancaster.pa.us/ElectionReturns/November_8,_2016_-_General_Election/245WriteIn.html

Patrick Burns is social media editor and a staff writer for the Lititz Record Express. He welcomes your questions and comments and can be reached at pburns.eph@lnpnews.com or at 721-4455.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *