It’s going to be a long night — and day — on Tuesday and Wednesday for candidates and voters in the 11th Congressional District in suburban Wayne and Oakland counties. The emergence of a vigorous write-in campaign by former state Sen. Nancy Cassis, R-Novi, means final results will be delayed until at least Wednesday afternoon. That may also slow vote tallies for issues on ballots in those communities. Local clerks will be able to determine how many votes Kerry Bentivolio, a Milford teacher, reindeer farmer, tea party activist and the only Republican who will appear on the ballot, gets on election night. But the results for Cassis — and the other two certified write-in candidates, Drexel Morton and former state Sen. Loren Bennett, both of Canton — will show up only as write-in votes after polls close. It might be possible to call a winner if Bentivolio has a significant majority of votes. But if write-ins are close to or exceed Bentivolio’s total, it gets complicated.
It will then be up to local elections officials to compile a list of all the ways write-in candidates’ names are written on the ballots. The only write-in votes in the 11th Congressional District that will be counted will be for Cassis, Bennett and Morton. Bennett said Thursday that he submitted his intent to run as a write-in in June, before he decided not to run, and he never got around to withdrawing his name. “I’m not a candidate,” he said. “I already voted by absentee ballot for Nancy Cassis.”
The list of write-in votes will be submitted to the county Board of Canvassers in Wayne and Oakland counties. They will determine whether the write-in votes will count at meetings scheduled for 1 p.m. Wednesday. “We may not know until early Thursday” who won, said Oakland County Elections Director Joe Rozell. And although Cassis has been diligent in trying to educate voters on the exact way they have to vote for her — by writing in her name in the Republican slot and filling in the oval next to the blank space for write-in candidates — it doesn’t have to be perfect. “The names don’t have to be exact, but it has to be close,” said Fred Woodhams, spokesman for the Secretary of State. “You just need to be able to identify the intent of the voter.”