Ohio2006 Blog

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Wednesday, April 26

Cong. OH-6th: Wilson (D) Write-In Campaign Generates Debate and Anticipation

This report from Cincinnati TV station WCPO details some of the debate, extra preparation, and tense anticipation swirling around the write-in campaign of State Sen. Charlie Wilson (D-St. Clairsville), pictured, who failed to submit enough valid signatures to qualify as a regular candidate in the Democratic primary for the 6th District seat of gubernatorial candidate Rep. Ted Strickland (D-New Lisbon).

John Payne, deputy director of the Columbiana County Board of Elections, told poll workers that they will preside over a "closely watched write-in voting effort" and everything they say and do to help voters will be scrutinized. All poll workers were required to take a series of classes. Columbiana County will use optical scanner machines, so the voters must darken a circle as well as write in Wilson's name, or the vote does not count. In Mahoning County, which will use touch-screen ballots, voters must type in the name using an on-screen keypad. Because there is no other candidate with a similar name, merely writing or typing "WILSON" or something recognizably close to it should be sufficient. However, it would be a violation of election law for poll workers to say anything about write-in voting unless first asked. The Republican and Democratic parties both plan on sending observers and lawyers to polling places throughout the 12-county district.

The debate centers on how many write-in votes Wilson must attact in order to win. Wilson has a huge advantage in name recognition, endorsements, and fundraising over his primary opponents Bob Carr (D-Wellsville) and John S. Luchansky (D-Poland), and he is far ahead of them in opinion polling. All Wilson must do is gain more votes than the leader between those two, probably Carr. So how many votes does he need?
"Based on the 61,294 votes cast in the district's last midterm Democratic primary in 2002, some observers are guessing that Wilson needs 20,000 write-in votes to seal a victory. But if voter turnout is down and Democrats aren't motivated by Carr or Luchansky, Wilson could squeak by with far less. William Binning, a political science professor at Youngstown State University and a former Republican county chairman, said he has seen plenty of interest in the write-in campaign. He also has had older voters ask how to write in Wilson's name, which makes him wonder if people will be deterred by their unfamiliarity with the process. 'The intentions may be out there to write him in, but I just think there are a lot of barriers,' Binning said. 'All he needs is more than Carr, but if 20,000 is what he needs, that is a yeoman's task.'"
By the way, don't hold your breath for the results of this election. After the votes are cast, it may take another few weeks for officials to read the written names and decide how many valid votes Wilson received. If the name is not obviously "Charlie Wilson," the bipartisan election board for the county must try to determine the intent of the voter. If board members cannot agree, the final say belongs to -- guess who? -- Secretary of State Ken Blackwell (R-Cincinnati).

8 Comments:

At 8:56 PM, Anonymous me said...

I anticipate the GOPers trying to get a lot of their faithful to take a "D" ballot. (/sigh)

 
At 2:27 AM, Anonymous KevinHayden said...

Geeze.... can't the get Katherine Harris to help poor old Ken?

 
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