Write-in option limits for unhappy Ga. voters

Monday, Oct. 18, 2010 5:28 PM
Last updated 5:31 PM

ATLANTA -- Georgia voters unhappy with their choices on the November ballot may consider writing in the name of someone they like better, but they can’t select someone like Karen Handel or Thurbert Baker if they want their votes counted.

The flood of negative campaign ads are designed to weaken support for the established candidates, and experts say they usually work. As a result, candidates who lost the primary like Handel and Baker may look more attractive in hindsight than the nominees.

Only qualified candidates can have their write-in votes counted under Georgia law, eliminating the hassle of tallying up ballots for Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, and candidates who lost a primary can’t qualify for a write-in.

“The idea is you have to compete in the primary, you have to live by it and not take another bite at the apple,” said Chuck Bullock, political science professor at the University of Georgia.

That limits the choices in the governor’s race to the candidates whose names will appear on the ballots, Republican Nathan Deal, Democrat Roy Barnes and Libertarian John Monds, and the two who qualified as write-in candidates, David C Byrne of Kennesaw and Neal Horsley of Carrollton.

Qualifying for a write-in candidacy only requires sending a notice to the Secretary of State’s Office and running a legal ad in a newspaper.

Brian R. Brown of Augusta has done it three times. He ran for Congress in 2006, president two years later and U.S. Senate this year.

Although he doesn’t know how many votes he drew in previous years, he keeps running out of civic duty.

“It’s what I’m supposed to do. It’s what I believe in,” he said, adding that he’s campaigned a little around the state on a platform of ensuring everyone gets the disability payments they’re entitled to since he felt he didn’t get his.

Write-in candidates haven’t all been long shots. Some have impacted the outcome.

In 1946, Eugene Talmadge’s supporters worried he was too sick to take office if he won the governor’s race, so they mounted a write-in campaign for his son Herman. When Eugene died, the three-way race threw the decision into the House of Representatives which elected Herman. The Supreme Court eventually ruled that Lt. Gov.-elect Melvin Thompson was the rightful governor, but only after the controversy had played out across the country’s headlines.

Twenty years later, former-Gov. Ellis Arnall lost the Democratic primary to Lester Maddox, and then mounted a write-in campaign when it became clear Republicans had crossed over to help the segregationist Maddox win as the easier foe. Republican Bo Callaway did get the most votes, but since he fell short of a majority, that decision also wound up in the House where the dominant Democrats reluctantly picked Maddox.

“By not allowing a last-minute write-in campaign as Ellis Arnall did in 1966, you reduce the chance of there being a runoff,” Bullock said.

The first person elected to a major office as a write-in candidate was Strom Thurmond in South Carolina. He won a seat in the U.S. Senate in 1954 after having been a governor and having run for president against Harry Truman.

This year, South Carolina has a chance to repeat history as former-Georgian Nathalie Dupree mounts a write-in campaign for the Senate. The cookbook author and television-show host is serving as an vehicle for Democrats unhappy with their surprise nominee Alvin Greene or Republican nominee Jim DeMint.

Comments (11) Add comment
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gaspringwater
3
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gaspringwater 10/18/10 - 07:13 pm
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Sounds like strangling

Sounds like strangling democracy.

Taylor B
5
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Taylor B 10/18/10 - 07:35 pm
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I'm voting for John Monds!

I'm voting for John Monds!

Dixieman
14485
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Dixieman 10/18/10 - 08:46 pm
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Hold your nose and vote for

Hold your nose and vote for Deal. Barnes would be a DISASTER and a vote for Monds just helps Barnes. (If you want to support the Libertarian Party, vote for Deal and then vote L all the way down the rest of the ballot.)

gaspringwater
3
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gaspringwater 10/18/10 - 08:54 pm
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The perennial cry, don't vote

The perennial cry, don't vote for a third party candidate because you're only hurting another candidate. But we'll never get out the Democrat and Republican two party cesspool unless you vote for some other people

Chillen
17
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Chillen 10/18/10 - 08:56 pm
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So are you voting for a 3rd

So are you voting for a 3rd party gaspringwater?

Little Lamb
45398
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Little Lamb 10/18/10 - 08:59 pm
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So now we know why the two

So now we know why the two dominant parties in Georgia "fixed" the write-in procedure. Chuck Bullock, political science professor at the University of Georgia, wrote:

“By not allowing a last-minute write-in campaign as Ellis Arnall did in 1966, you reduce the chance of there being a runoff.”

Well, a write-in vote for Karen Handel will not be counted, but a vote for John Monds will be counted! A vote for Monds will force a run-off election; thus sending a message to Democrats and Republicans alike that we do not want old, re-treads such as Barnes and scraps such as Deal.

Taylor B
5
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Taylor B 10/18/10 - 09:08 pm
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Gaspring, you're right. Monds

Gaspring, you're right. Monds is a good choice anyway.

gaspringwater
3
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gaspringwater 10/18/10 - 09:35 pm
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Chillen - I often vote third

Chillen - I often vote third party. I'm an Independent and Democrat leaning when there's no other choice. Monds is not a bad choice and if he gets eliminated and there's a runoff, neither of the other two are worth a trip to the polls.

exmedic
2
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exmedic 10/18/10 - 09:45 pm
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I think one of the stupidest

I think one of the stupidest things Georgians have ever done was to vote for Deal instead of Karen Handel. we had a chance and we screwed it up.
now look at the choices we have.

Little Lamb
45398
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Little Lamb 10/18/10 - 11:16 pm
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Do you remember the Roy

Do you remember the Roy Barnes TV ad from just a month or so ago where he said that Deal would make Georgia a "laughingstock" on the national scene? Well, tonight I saw the latest Roy Barnes ad on TV and it had Roy standing in front of a barn while arrows supposedly zipped by him and hit the barn sidings. He said that the shooters were "Washington insiders" and that they couldn't shoot straight. Then he closed by saying, "I hope they don't hit one of my cows!"

Who is the laughingstock now?

CATFISHSTEW
14
Points
CATFISHSTEW 10/19/10 - 12:06 am
0
0
It just showed that thay can

It just showed that thay can hit the "BROAD SIDE OF A BARN" nothing
more.

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