Voting for write-in candidates can be a tricky business.
The name doesn’t have to be spelled correctly, as long as the voter’s intent is clear. Several Columbus voters wrote in “Mark Gardner” or “Mark Garner” for Muscogee Superior Court clerk, instead of qualified write-in candidate Mike Garner. But that’s OK, because a ballot-review panel knew what they meant.
Getting the name just right isn’t crucial, but getting putting it in the right place on the ballot is.
Municipal Court clerk may sound a lot like Superior Court clerk, but it’s not the same. So Mike Garner’s 162 votes for Municipal Court clerk did not count, because he didn’t qualify to seek that office.
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Similarly, a marshal may seem a lot like a sheriff, to some folks — some cowboy movies don’t make much of a distinction — but they’re not the same, either. So 15 votes that Muscogee sheriff’s write-in candidate Pam Brown got for marshal also didn’t count.
As usual, hundreds of Columbus residents casting ballots Nov. 8 didn’t care whether their write-in votes counted or not. They just wanted to write in, sometimes just for fun, sometimes to express their discontent with the candidates offered, and sometimes to express other views.
In the latter instance, they sometimes put a lot of effort into it.
By far the longest of these was not where you might expect it — not under president or senator or any office now the subject of controversy.
It was under coroner, where incumbent Buddy Bryan had no opposition:
“The USA needs a candidate who can see all no matter where the evidence leads to & forensic proves without a motivedoubt justas our military all opinions are to be kept to yourself, so you have a non political affiliation to corrupt or sway their beliefs,” someone typed.
Make of that what you will.
Two voters typed in full remarks in the sheriff’s race:
“A tolerant live and let live candidate — as long as they follow the USA laws!” wrote one.
“Black lives matter but not in this consolidated city,” wrote another.
Under tax commissioner, where incumbent Lula Huff had no challengers, someone typed a message to the man who’s now the president-elect:
“Donald trump legalize any school that want to go to legalize marggiwana.”
Other sentiments were more to the point:
“Socialist democrats are destroying our country,” someone wrote under Municipal Court clerk.
“Dear God can I get some besides Democrats to vote for,” was typed under coroner.
“The marshals office is a waste of space,” was typed in for marshal.
“Anyone other than a socialist,” showed up under several state legislative offices.
Other write-ins named cartoon characters, athletes, coaches, celebrities, dead celebrities and politicians living, dead and barely remembered.
Here’s a sampling by office.
▪ President: 1st Lady Obama, Alfred E. Newman, Anybody but these two, Charlie Brown, Deez Nuts, Drake, Dwayne The Rock Johnson, Grumpy Cat, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Jesus Christ Son of God, Jimmy Carter, Leslie Knope, Michelle Obama, Mickey Mouse, Michael Rowe, Peyton Manning, Ronald Wilson Reagan, Tim Tebow, Trey Gowdy, Vermin Supreme.
▪ U.S. Senator: Alexander Hamilton, Boobie, El Chapo, Huey Newton, Jimmy Kimmel, Kanye West
▪ Public Service Commission: A small dog, Bobo the Clown, Bugs Bunny, Cam Newton, Free Space, Harambe, Kitty Cat, Kobe Bryant, Larry King, Not another illuminati, Shaq, Twilight Sparkles, Yogi Bear.
▪ U.S. House, District 2: Bugs Bunny, Snoopy.
▪ Georgia Senate, District 15: Art Van Delay, Batman, Benedict Arnold, Bob Marley, Daffy Duck, Dash Riprock, Forrest Gump, Fresh blood, John Doe, John Wayne, Marilyn Monroe, Popeye, Sam Elliot, Sarah Palin, Ted Nugent, Tim Cooke, Time to retire.
▪ Georgia Senate, District 29: Charlie Daniels, Frank Underwood.
▪ Georgia House, District 133: Lebron James, Ronald McDonald, Santa Claus.
▪ Georgia House, District 134: Al Gore, Any capable woman, Bill Nye the Science Guy, Chance the Rapper, Deputy Dog, Goofy, Humpty Dumpty, Ice Cube, Johnny Cash, Kitty Cat, Minnie Mouse, Not Dick Smith, Pichachu
▪ Georgia House, District 135: Clint Eastwood, Donkey Kong, Sponge Bob, Time to retire, Big Joe, Newt Gingrich, Yo Mamma.
▪ Georgia House, District 137: Big Bird, Elvis, Fred Sanford, Joe Blow, Mickey Mantle, Tom Jones.
▪ District Attorney: A clown, Another rock, Billy Bob, Darth Vader, Eric Cartman, Garfield the Cat, Gypsy, Hot Pants Devine, Jim Carrey, Jimmy Buffet, John Snow, Johnny Carson, Johnny Reb, Jonny depp, Marshall Mathers, Pinky, Pistol Pete, Pope Francis, Queen, Rudy Gulliani, Seymour Butts, Stuntman Mike, Tom Sawyer, Vacate the seat, Willie Nelson.
▪ Probate Court Judge: Beavis, Bob Dole, Bozo, Chris Pratt, Cookie Monster, Judge Judy, Kirby Smart, Maltidudes, Michael McDonald, Optimus Prime, Pluto.
▪ Superior Court Clerk: Daniel Tosh, George Lucas, Goofy Dog, Harriet Tubman, Jerry Garcia, Phil Mickelson, Roger Rabbit, The king of Burger King, Tom Cat.
▪ Sheriff: Andy Taylor, Sheriff Woody.
▪ Tax Commissioner: Bob Newhart, Butthead, Gene Simmons, Harper Lee, Jack Reacher, Jane Doe, Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Appleseed, Lemon Lip, Madonna, Max Power, Peanuts, Ralph Cransdon, Sir Geoffrey Winkerbeans, The Hamburglar, Yoda.
▪ Municipal Court Judge: Cake by the ocean, Droopy Dog, Faith and prayer, Fargo, Ghandi, Google, Hermit yhe Frog, Messing, Tom Petty.
▪ Municipal Court Clerk: Abraham Lincoln, Bambi, Bobby Cox, Bono, Brad Pitt, Bruce Wayne, Chewbaca, Chris Rock, Dolly Pardon, Elmo, Gumby, Horsecollar, Lady Gaga, My dog, Rod Stewart, Ronnie Vanznadt, Susan Sarandon, T Bone Delite, Thor, Underdog.
▪ Coroner: Bill Clinton, Buzz, Dingleberry, Mike Tyson, Nick Saban, The undertaker,
▪ Marshal: Achilles, Arnold Shwartzenegger, Barney Fife, Bucktooth Elliot, Buddha, Candy Cane, Chuck Norris, Close this office, Grandmother, Jim Comey, Julian Assange, Kermit, Limerick, Mariah Carrey, Matt Dillon, Mr. Nobody, Negative, Record write in, Sting, Super man, Thomas Edison, Tom Landry, Wyatt Erp.
▪ Solicitor General: Captain Planet, Elmer Fudd, Lorretta Lynch, Moonwalker, Rebel Barbie, Tom Brady.
▪ Soil & Water Commissioner: Bob Barker, Chris Brown, Jolly Green Giant, Prince, Shawn Hannity.