If some voters had their way, Mickey Mouse would be an Arizona senator. And U.S. president. And a mayor. And on every local school board. Donald Duck, a close runner-up for all those races, likely would concede. Mickey has always been the front-runner among fake write-in candidates. Superheroes from Marvel comics are popular, too, along with other characters from box-office favorites around election time. Some voters write in their names, or names of friends or family members. Others go on rants about politics on the write-in line. While some may find it funny, Maricopa County elections officials aren’t laughing. Every write-in entry must be verified with the list of legitimate write-in candidates for that election, by a three-member review team. In the August primary election, Maricopa County elections officials saw the biggest ratio of fake-to-legitimate write-in candidates in recent memory: Among 90,433 entries in write-in slots, 1,738 were votes for legitimate write-in candidates. Each fake entry cost Arizona counties money and manpower and slowed down the tabulation process, said Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell, who oversees elections.
“They think they’re making some kind of a statement or being cute,” Purcell said. “The issue is what it costs us, and ultimately costs them, because the taxpayers are paying for the election. But in staff time that we have to put in, this primary election was the worst we’ve seen.”
This primary election’s high volume of write-in candidates required the county to hire additional temporary elections staff to verify write-in candidates and work overtime to tabulate the results within the mandatory period, Purcell said. With nearly 2 million registered voters in the state’s largest county, Maricopa County elections staff has seen it all. “None of the above” is a popular entry, and so are expletives.
Full Article: Fake write-in votes cost the county.