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Write-ins win almost a third of county races

News editor

Rarely has a preliminary election vote tally had so many apparent winners with the same name: “Write-in” won 20 of the 70 positions up for grabs in the April 7 election.

Monday’s election canvass by the county commission put real names into those winner spots. Write-in winners haven’t yet made official whether they will accept those positions.

Lehigh has the most questions, as no one filed for any of the city races. Mayor-elect David Terrell and council members-elect Claude Dawes, Marion Fontenot, Glen George, Eldon Kaiser, and Nick McLaughlin all were write-in winners.

For McLaughlin, there is no decision to make. Under Kansas election rules, McLaughlin is certified as the winner of a seat, but Clerk Tina Spencer determined he isn’t qualified to take the position because he isn’t registered to vote in Lehigh.

The same is true of write-in Jason Miller, who won a Burns council seat but isn’t qualified. Burns mayor-elect Ryan Johnson is a qualified write-in winner.

A write-in winner was assured for the USD 410 Durham-Hillsboro-Lehigh board of education, as only three people filed for four open positions. Eight write-ins tied with one vote each, and John O. Dalke’s name was randomly drawn as the winner.

Peabody voters orchestrated a last-minute write-in campaign that put Tom Spencer on the city council, beating out three candidates on the ballot.

The most unusual write-in vote belonged to “Scrappy, my house cat.” Animated movie character Roger Rabbit also scored a vote.

Spencer lightheartedly confirmed neither was registered to vote in Marion County, and the votes were not recorded in the official election register.

The Kansas Secretary of State office, at Spencer’s request, confirmed that after a write-in is declared a winner, the county’s role is finished.

If a write-in winner declines an office, it is up to that body to determine how to fill the position. Spencer requested the clarification because some in the past had the misconception that the next highest write-in total automatically got a position.

So, for example, if Dalke declined his school board seat, the USD 410 board could appoint someone to the position, or choose not to fill it at this time.

No race outcomes were reversed when commissioners tallied 18 provisional ballots. Seventeen ballots were rejected for various reasons.

Last modified April 16, 2015

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