• Last modified 517 days ago (Nov. 23, 2022)


Vote canvass reveals a lot of Mickey Mouse

And Donald Duck, too, as voters express dissatisfaction with choices for sheriff, legislature

Staff writer

Does (D) after a politician’s name stand for Democrat? Or could it mean Disney?

The Disney Party, if there were one, might lay claim to garnering as many votes as Democrats in county balloting earlier this month.

In local races with only a Republican on the ballot, Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck each garnered 5 of 41 write-in votes logged for mythic or legendary figures, according to election canvassing last week.

Their five votes would have been more than enough for them to have won all but 1 of 13 township clerk positions decided by write-ins.

Warner Brothers was a close second with 3 write-ins for Daffy Duck and 1 each for his presumed political progeny — Daffy Duck Jr. and Daffy Duck III.

D.C. Comics scored with Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman each receiving a write-in. They blanked other superheroes from the Justice League and the entire Marvel Comics universe.

Even KSNW-TV (Channel 3) reporter Craig Andres, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, and Green Hornet sidekick Kato received write-in votes, as did a dizzying array of other pseudo-celebrities and average citizens, specifically including “Joe Blow” and people named only “Bob” (6 votes) and “Willie”(2).

Voters wrote in “none of the above” or similar messages 53 times in addition to voting for pets such as Artemis Prime the cat, Nanook the dog, Scat the cat, and Peppa Pig.

But there were more serious implications within the tally of write-ins.

It wasn’t just a matter of 349 write-ins for non-township positions going to 232 different names. It was a question of which races drew the most write-ins.

Voters seemed satisfied with most choices on the Nov. 8 ballot. They recorded just one write-in each in the races for U.S. senator and state treasurer, two for governor, three each for secretary of state and insurance commissioner, four for congressman, and seven (including “Liar Liar”) for attorney general.

But they appeared dissatisfied in other races, writing in other names 102 times for sheriff and 61 times for state representative from the 70th District, encompassing the northern and eastern part of the county.

Protest votes for sheriff

Despite winning with 4,274 votes, incumbent sheriff Jeff Soyez, unopposed in the primary and general after being tabbed by party insiders to fill the unexpired term of the late Rob Craft, saw 11 write-ins go to his undersheriff, Larry Starkey.

Starkey had been a close runner-up in spring balloting by precinct committeemen and committeewomen to name Craft’s replacement.

An array of not-so-serious candidates also received votes for sheriff — drunken movie millionaire Arthur, Barney Fife and Opie Taylor of the “Andy Griffith Show,” Batman, Daffy Duck III, former congressman Dan Glickman, Doc Holiday of O.K. Corral fame, Donald Duck, Forest Gump, Mickey Mouse, Peppa Pig, Sonny Crockett of “Miami Vice,” and Speedy Gonzales from Warner Brothers cartoons.

But some write-ins seemed more serious.

Several of Soyez’s current or former deputies and other law enforcement officers received write-in votes.

Among them, with various degrees of spelling, were these current or former officers, each receiving one vote except as noted:

  • Deputies Derek Fetrow (2 votes), Josh Meliza, Jim Philpott, Matt Regier, Aaron Slater, and Travis Wilson
  • Former sheriff Lee Becker.
  • Marion officers Steve Janzen (7 votes) and Duane McCarty.
  • Hillsboro officers David Funk (2 votes), Jessey Hiebert and Randy Brazil.
  • Former Peabody officers Bruce Burke and Josh Wilson.
  • State trooper Eric Rust.
  • The sheriff’s brother and former Marion chief, Michel Soyez.

Variations of “anyone else” received 18 votes for sheriff. There even was a vote for “Flaming Durango” (misspelled), an apparently reference to a rumored incident early in the sheriff’s law-enforcement career.

Aside from Starkey and Janzen, the biggest write-in vote-getter wasn’t a current or former law enforcement officer, however.

It was wind farm opponent Randy Eitzen, who received five write-ins from five different precincts.

Protest votes for legislature

The 61 write-ins in the 70th District for the Kansas House contrasted with just nine in the southern and western 74th District, where 19-year-old Libertarian Henry Hein provided an alternative on the ballot and captured a surprising 597 votes against incumbent Stephen Owens’s 1,902.

In the 70th District, incumbent John Barker, who lost in the primary to Abilene fundamentalist Scott Hill, received 13 write-ins. Former 70th District representative Bob Brookens received 8 write-ins.

With his name the only one printed on the ballot, Hill easily won with 1,856 votes.

Others receiving write-ins included former Royals slugger George Brett, Daffy Duck, historic Abilene marshal Wyatt Earp, “Star Wars” hero Han Solo, Marion planning commissioner Darvin Markley, Senator Jerry Moran, Mickey Mouse (2), Marion principal Donald Raymer, Superman, Willie Wildcat, and sheriff’s deputy Joel Womochil.

Variations of “none of the above” received 5 write-ins.

Other protest votes

In the race for state board of education, 60 write-ins indicated concern about incumbent Jim Porter, whose unsuccessful primary challenger, fundamentalist McPherson barber Luke Aichele, received 7 of those write-ins to Porter’s 4,090 votes.

Among county commissioners, despite garnering a commission-leading 913 votes, Dave Crofoot proved to be the least popular in terms of write-ins.

Declared write-in challenger Tom Britain received 38 votes while other, undeclared write-ins received 24.

Amy Soyez, who opposed Crofoot as an independent in a previous election, received 5 of those write-ins. Variations of “anyone but Dave” received 3.

In comparison, commissioners Kent Becker (736 votes) and Jonah Gehring (908) each had only 18 write-ins in opposition. Britain (misspelled) received one of the write-ins in each of those districts despite not running there.

Township clerks

Candidates bothered to put their names on the ballot for only eight of the township clerk races in the county. All were uncontested on the ballot, and all won.

The remaining 13 trustee winners were decided by write-ins, with only one of the successful candidates receiving more than three votes:


Subject to meeting eligibility requirements:

Blaine — Tim Svoboda, 2 votes.

Catlin — Ross VanCuren, 3.

Centre — Nick Kraus, 7.

Clark — Ed Vinduska and Jim Bernhardt, tied at 2.

Clear Creek — Charlie Svoboda, 3.

Colfax — Billy Alcorn, 3.

Doyle — Jeff Wyss, 1.

Fairplay — Chuck DeForest and Don Hett, tied at 3.

Grant — Jeannine Bateman, Jeffrey Ensey, Melanie Ensey, James Griffitts, Tim Makovec, Lori Siebert, Eileen Sieger, and Bill Vinduska, all tied at 1.

Lehigh — Donna Terrell.

Milton — Daniel Huls and Gene Pearson, tied at 2.

Risley — Kerry Hein, 2.

Summit — Kathy Preheim, 2.

Ties were broken by lot Thursday. Vinduska won in Clark, DeForest in Fairplay, Bateman in Grant, and Huls in Milton.

Other races

In a contentious city council race in Burns, write-in Rehea Huls managed to out-poll four of seven candidates listed on the ballot to win one of three seats with 37 votes.

She won along with ballot-listed candidates Fritzie Hatfield (64 votes) and Tom Greenwood (58).

None of the other ballot-listed candidates received more than 15 votes.

Other races on the ballot went as expected, with unopposed candidates winning election absent significant numbers of protest write-ins.

All three ballot questions — two state and one local, about creating a Marion-Florence recreation district — carried in every precinct in the county despite one of them, about the legislature avoiding gubernatorial vetoes to override regulations, failed statewide.

Last modified Nov. 23, 2022