How Not to Cast a Write-in Vote

And other voting tips for the April 2 election

With the April 2 election only a couple weeks away and early absentee voting already underway as of March 19, Door County Clerk Jill Lau wanted to remind voters what to pay attention to when casting a vote – particularly during an election when two Door County Board of Supervisor seats are up for write-in grabs. 

Fill In the Ovals

Voters in County Board District 19 (parts of Baileys Harbor, Ephraim, Liberty Grove and Sister Bay) and in County Board District 8 (Wards 7, 8, 9 and 10 within the City of Sturgeon Bay), will not have a County Board supervisor candidate on their ballot. The seat will go to a write-in candidate who receives a majority of votes. Source: Cut from official ballot.

First, be sure to fill in the ovals for choices, including if you’re entering the name of a write-in candidate. That’s because optical-scan voting equipment is smart, but it decides a vote based on its assessment of the marks the voter places on the ballot. 

“The optical scan voting equipment will not ‘see’ a vote when the oval has not been marked,” Lau said.

Don’t Have Fun With Your Write-In Selections

“We find, a lot of times in a presidential race, people don’t want to vote for anyone, so they find it amusing to write ‘Donald Duck’ or ‘Mickey Mouse,’” Lau said. “They don’t realize the result of doing that on the election workers who have already put in a 14-hour day. You can write it, but you’re wasting everybody’s time.”

When the write-in oval is filled in – regardless of the name that’s entered – the machine separates the ballot into a separate bin, which makes it easier for poll workers to tally at the end of the night. 

“It’s difficult to just deal with the write-ins, but when you start writing in stupid stuff, it adds to the frustration,” Lau said.

The District 19 County Board Supervisor seat – currently held by Dave Lienau, who is not running for re-election – represents parts of Baileys Harbor, Ephraim, Liberty Grove and Sister Bay. But no one filed for that seat and it will be decided by a write-in candidate who receives a majority of votes (or by appointment if no write-in candidate receives a majority). 

The same goes for District 8, which represents Wards 7, 8, 9 and 10 within the City of Sturgeon Bay. Rodney Beardsley currently holds that seat that represents parts of both the east and west side of the city, but is not running for re-election and no one else filed. 

“These seats that have nobody we get a lot of ‘anyone else,’ or famous people,” Lau said. “The clerks are concerned. That’s the importance we want out there: Please use the ovals.”

And don’t write-in fake people.

Pay Attention to the Number of Candidates to Vote For

Filling in the oval for all votes cast is important, as is heeding the instructions on how many votes to cast – ‘Vote for 1,’ or ‘Vote for not more than 2,’ for example. 

“In a ‘Vote for 1’ race, if the voter fills in the oval next to the ballot candidate and then writes in a name, the election inspectors must determine which vote is ‘eligible’ to be counted,” Lau said. “Voter intent is always taken into consideration.” 

Write-in Candidates Can Still File

Write-in candidates have five days prior to the April 2 election – by noon on Friday, March 29 – to file with their municipal or county clerk as a write-in candidate. 

That official status means votes cast for any version of a person’s name would count for that person – a vote for Timothy Smith or Tim Smith would go to the same person, rather than two different people, as would be the case without an official write-in.

A person needs only to fill out a campaign registration statement with their local clerk to become an official write-in candidate. 

“If someone is seriously going to run [as a write-in], it’s in their best interest to file,” Lau said.

Presidential Preference Vote

April 2 ballots will have Wisconsin’s presidential primary. Coming as late as it does, the field has already been narrowed to two candidates: Joe Biden and Donald Trump.

Even though candidates have withdrawn, some of their names will still appear on the ballot. On the Republican side for President of the United States in addition to Trump is Chris Christie, Vivek Ramasamy, Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley. On the Democrat side, both Biden and Dean Phillips are on the ballot.

Wisconsin’s primary is referred to as the Presidential Preference Vote. Voters are not required to select a party – they can simply cast their vote for one of the candidates – but that option is available. If they do select a party, they cannot vote for candidates in the other party.

Statewide Referendums

Voters within the towns of Gardner, Union and Brussels will have referendum questions on their ballots pertaining to borrowing money to help fund broadband. In addition, all voters will be asked two questions, each relating to elections and each amending Wisconsin’s Constitution.

The first question pertaining to use of private funds in election administration asks: Shall section 7 (1) of article III of the constitution be created to provide that private donations and grants may not be applied for, accepted, expended, or used in connection with the conduct of any primary, election, or referendum?”

The second question pertaining to election officials asks:Shall section 7 (2) of article III of the constitution be created to provide that only election officials designated by law may perform tasks in the conduct of primaries, elections, and referendums?”

The vote to put the questions on the ballot passed along party lines, with Republicans in favor and Democrats opposed, according to Ballotopedia