Riddle Me This, Batfans…

Ok, I don’t want to get into a tiff over GA-12, but the closeness of the election there got me thinking and I want to put the question up for discussion.

The Savannah Morning News reported today that Max Burns recieved 73.9% of the vote in Effingham while John Barrow recieved 25.96% of the vote.  It doesn’t take a math genius to realize that those two numbers add up to 99.86%, leaving .14% of the votes going to Donald Duck or Alfred E. Newman, etc.  Given that there were 10880 votes cast in the county, one can expect that 15 votes were thrown away on write-ins of some sort. 

If we take this further, and assume that the .14% number holds across the board for the entire district, we are looking at approximately 200 votes going to neither of the two major candidates.

If 150,000 votes are cast and one candidate reaches 74,999 votes and the other reaches 74,801 votes and the remaining 200 go to candidates not on the ballot, does this force a runoff?  Should this force a runoff?  

14 comments

  1. The answer is no. Just last year in Atlanta they had a race between two candidates where the number of votes that separated them was less than the number of unqualified write in votes. It went all the way to the Supreme Court and the court ruled that write in votes for non-qualified candidates are considered spoiled votes that don’t count towards the denominator for the race.

    If they did, what would the point be of voting in the first race? In other words, why should Barrow v Burns happen all over again in the exact same race because some jokers wrote in Mickey Mouse. Now, this would not be the case if they voted for a qualified third party candidate or an official write in candidate whose votes would be counted, but I think my right to have my vote go towards an election that is certified and finished outweighs some other guy’s right to vote for Mickey Mouse and force us to do the exact same election over again.

    Though the counties reflect the percentages for write in votes on their breakouts, the SOS does not in the official certification of the vote.

  2. Demonbeck says:

    Shouldn’t the SOS do that though. I mean I understand that Alfred E Newman is not a serious candidate, but what if voter x truly thought that another person would be a better candidate for this office? What makes a write in candidate viable – making a write in vote legitimate? Shouldn’t this scenario force a runoff with no option for write-ins?

  3. Rick Day says:

    Legally? Currently Hell no. Morally? Hell yes!

    One may be amazed what would happen if NOTA was allowed in contested elections (even uncontested ones; the ones where the fat cat incumbent runs unopposed.)

    If NOTA took majority, a new slate of candidates would run.

    Of course, the Dupoply will never let this happen.

  4. DougieFresh says:

    The Supreme Court probably made the correct decision based on the law, but I think the law is wrong. I think there needs to be a none of the above option in races, and any candidate losing to it should be disqualified from the election and maybe from ever holding that office again. Writing in mickey mouse is a form of none of the above.

    Perhaps the highly negative races would stop, and politicians would fear using the mutually assured destruction campaigning technique.

  5. Loren says:

    What makes a write in candidate viable – making a write in vote legitimate?

    Publication of one’s intention to seek the office in question, and providing such notice to the SOS. It’s in OCGA 21-2-133.

    One reason unqualified write-in votes aren’t counted is because the voter’s intent can’t be discerned. If a voter wrote in ‘William Hinton’ in the next election, should that be considered a vote for the blogger or for the guy who ran for State Senate?

  6. Loren says:

    If NOTA took majority, a new slate of candidates would run.

    What happens if NOTA wins the second race too? Do we get a third election with a third set of candidates? What happens to the constituents who aren’t being represented by anyone while multiple elections are being held?

    And what happens if there is no majority? What if NOTA gets 40%, and each major candidate gets 30%?

  7. I think the problem with unqualified write-ins boils down to this: if I don’t want to be elected to an office and I don’t sign up (either by qualifying or signing up as a write in) you can’t make me do it.

    So if someone writes in Shirley Franklin for Governor but she has no interest in being governor, why should that count against the legitimate votes. Now, had Shirley Franklin signed up as a write in candidate, that vote would count and if she won or forced a runoff, the dynamics of the runoff would be different because now Shirley Franklin’s supporters would be reallocated.

    Does that make sense? If Garrett Hayes had forced a runoff, the dynamic of the runoff would be different. Both candidates would make a play for the libertarians votes in order to achieve majority status. If Donald Duck had forced a runoff…then you are basically having the exact same election as before, how is Mark Taylor or Sonny Perdue going to address the concerns of the Donald Duck voter?

  8. bmerck says:

    Voters have a NOTA option in Nevada, although the NOTA option typically gets 1% or less; roughly in the range of write-in or low-profile third party candidates.

  9. gatormathis says:

    It is fitting to title this thread with a Batman theme.

    It is going to basically be a rerun of a thread before the election where we digressed into every subject imaginable, discussing the validity of the write-in-votes.

    The case that was fought over it and all.

    duhh duh duhhhhh duh duhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
    BATMANNNNNNNN!!!!!!

  10. DougieFresh says:

    But the intent of the voters is clear, in that they wanted neither of the two candidates.

    If none of the above wins, then it is clear the electorate does not want to be represented by the candidates on the ballot, so the office SHOULD go unfilled.

    It is similar to why I think we should never have a draft. If a free society cannot convince its citizens that a war is justified, Congress has no right to force its citizens to support it. If voters cannot be convinced that a candidate is worthy to represent them, then so be it, leave it empty.

    Perhaps when enough spots go unfilled, the government will clue into the fact most of it is unnecessary.

    But, as that is not the current law, the decision by the Supreme Court is correct, and recounts should not be based on write-ins unless they were for a properly registered write-in candidate. From my understanding, there were none.

    On a side note, maybe this will convince the Republicans in the legislature to reduce the bar for ballot access. if there had been a green or a libertarian on the ballot, most likely both these races would have gone to a run-off, and Republicans overperform in runnoffs.

  11. Bull Moose says:

    Demon, you’ve demonstrated that you don’t know much about basic electoral politics law. You should know that a run in vote does not count unless the candidate written in is a registered write in candidate.

    Get the recount done and be done! This dragging out of the issue is just partisan game playing that was clearly rejected last Tuesday.

  12. Demonbeck says:

    This has nothing to do with partisanship. It was a question that came to me when looking at returns on Tuesday evening. I had hoped that there would be a news article on it, but never saw one.

    I think it is quite odd that you would have no problem with muffling the voice of someone choosing NOTA. What if someone from Effingham truly felt that Jon Burns would make a more effective Congressman than those running? Why should his write-in vote count any less than someone voting for Max Burns just because there is an R next to his name – not because of his stance on the issues? Frankly, the idea of my state throwing out votes concerns me.

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