The five write-in candidates who have announced for office in Camas, Battle Ground and Yacolt won’t see their names on the ballot this Tuesday, of course. They also won’t see their names listed in the results. State legislators passed a new law in 2018 that changes how write-in votes are tallied.
Now, for a write-in candidate’s ballots to be counted, they have to declare as a candidate prior to the election. Candidates have until up to 8 p.m. on Election Day to declare, although candidates who declared 18 or more days prior to the election can do so for free. Those who declare later have to pay a fee, according to Clark County Elections Supervisor Cathie Garber.
On election night, the write-ins will be counted as one entity. If that field is higher than the largest vote-getter on the ballot, the write-ins will be individually counted to see if any of the write-in candidates won the seat, Garber said.
Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey testified in support of the new write-in laws, and said they were done to help ease the workload on elections administrators.
“We get lots of voters who want to express their opinions,” Kimsey said. “They put down write-in candidate names that are not serious names. We get Mickey Mouse. We get some obscenities. There are lots of non-serious names in the those write-in spots.”
While elections administrators have respect for write-in campaigns, Kimsey said, this law makes sure they don’t have to take as much time individually counting whimsical names.
“As a practical reality, people don’t get elected as write-in candidates,” Kimsey said. “We’re doing this work to no effect. What the Legislature recognized, and what election administrators recognized, is there are in history situations where you do want the opportunity for people to be elected as write-in candidates.”