HARROD – Several people in the Allen East School District got the idea in Cliff Nickles’ head: It would be nice to see his name printed on the November ballot for the Allen East School
HARROD – Several people in the Allen East School District got the idea in Cliff Nickles’ head: It would be nice to see his name printed on the November ballot for the Allen East School District.
After all, he was an involved parent, with four sons from kindergarten to sixth grade. He was concerned about maintaining the current school curriculum. He graduated from the district, along with his siblings and parents. He invested in his success.
“They thought I would be good at it,” Nickles said. “So I thought, ‘You know, why don’t you throw my name in the hat, and why don’t you try it on? “”
There was a problem, however. He had passed the August 4 deadline at 4 p.m. to have his name printed on the ballot. That’s when he decided to try to get enough people in the school district to scribble his name on the ballot and run as a candidate in writing.
There are 22 candidates registered for the November 2 election in Allen, Auglaize and Putnam counties. Fifteen of them will automatically win their races, provided they remember to vote for themselves. Either they have no opposition, or there are not enough candidates and enough open seats for them to gain a place.
These other seven have a more difficult challenge.
In Nickles’ case, three names – incumbents Brian Hershberger and Kyle Miller as well as Sara Jones – are on the ballot for three school board seats. He must convince people to fill in the bubble next to a line and write his name, while making their other two choices.
“The first three voters will come in,” said Kathy Meyer, director of the Allen County Board of Elections. “It doesn’t mean that the written person will not be accepted, but it is very difficult to get votes because your name is not on the ballot. You have to work harder to make sure people know you are running.
Make the vote count
There’s a common misconception about written votes, that you can write anyone’s name on the line, Meyer said. She sees her share of “Jesus” and “Goofy” on the ballots.
A candidate must file with the election office to declare that she is open to winning the race. This year, written nomination forms had to be filed by August 23, approximately three weeks after the deadline for putting your name on the ballot.
Meyer recalled working for an electoral council in Champaign County, when someone signed up to run for a seat at that county’s educational services center. However, the woman never filed a case with the board and all votes with her name inked on the page were rejected.
“I’ve had people arguing with me, ‘Well, it’s a democracy; we can write whoever we want, ”Meyer said. “It doesn’t mean the person wants it or even would accept it if it was actually voted on.”
When you arrive at your polling station, you can ask to see a list of registered candidates before you vote. This list cannot be published to avoid giving anyone an advantage, Meyer said.
Voters should fill in the circle next to the blank line for a written vote and then write the person’s name the best they can, said Karen Warnecke, director of the Putnam County Election Council. Her county has nominees entered in three contested council races, including Joanne McKanna for Columbus Grove council, Ada Hilton for Leipsic council and Delores Meloney for West Leipsic council.
The board of elections tries to count the votes where people want them, if they can understand the intention. Their votes will not be officially counted until the official canvassing a few weeks after election night.
“Let’s say for Karen Warnecke, and there’s only one Karen running, I saw the board say, ‘Well they knew Karen but just can’t remember her last name “. They would probably give that person the vote because they filled the bubble and said Karen, ”Warnecke said. “Or I saw the bubble fill up and they just had the last name, and it’s clear that’s only that person they could mean.”
Chris Roberts is the candidate writing in a cluttered field for Elida School Board. Voters will choose three people. The incumbents Barry Barnt, Jason Bowers and Jeffrey Christoff are entered on the ballot. Alisa Agozzino’s name is also on the ballot, but Roberts is not. He must convince enough people to fill in the bubble and put his name on the blank line.
Roberts is concerned about the mask and vaccination warrants entering Elida schools.
“I was talking to friends and talking about this problem, and I was like, ‘I want to get involved and do something. Someone said, ‘You should run for the board,’ Roberts said.
He was also a day late to appear on the ballot, so he just presented himself as a candidate in writing. He created a Facebook group, “# WriteRoberts for the Elida School Board“to share his post. He also has some inscriptions.
Nickles also took to Facebook to try and share his post. He posted an article on his Facebook page, describing his interest in the job and reminding people how to vote for him. He admitted that his last name is already common and well known in the district, which helps.
“The response has been pretty good. With the early voting, they told me they wrote to me,” Nickles said on Friday. “Actually, I was just at the polling station, seeing the ballots for the first time. I wrote my name down, and that’s sure to be a different feeling.”
Winners in writing
While this is rare, it is not impossible to win a contested race as a writing contestant.
Lima’s 6th Ward Councilor Derry Glenn was re-elected in 2003 as a written candidate.
In 2005, Frank Lamar was re-elected as administrator of the Township of Perry as a written candidate in a six-party race. This year, outgoing administrator Norman Capps is a written candidate, but there are only two people running for two open positions there, which essentially guarantees his re-election.
Also in 2005, Continental elected a written candidate, Ron Bradford, to its school board, defeating an incumbent who had her name on the ballot.
Meyer has fond memories of a writing campaign, a Swanton Township run in Lucas County years ago. This was even before she was a poll worker, let alone election chief. His stepfather’s re-election application was rejected, so he ran as a candidate in writing. The rules have since changed, making a person whose candidacy was rejected ineligible to run as a candidate, Meyer said.
“He had pencils made with his name on it, and the family and the campaign came out and stood up at every polling place and handed out pencils when people came in to vote,” Meyer said. “He came back.… So it happens.”
There are 22 candidates entered on the ballots in Allen, Auglaize and Putnam counties for the Nov. 2 election, including seven in contested races.
Contact David Trinko at 567-242-0467 or on Twitter @Lima_Trinko.