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Characters, local figures, other stars garner votes
Write-in choices show creativity and cynicism
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If Mickey Mouse were a politician, he just might be a third party candidate.

In Tuesday's election, the famous mouse got the most write-in votes for various offices, and his name was listed under almost every office.

People frustrated with this year's choices wrote in favorite movie stars such as Tom Hanks and Jim Carrey, characters such as Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort, animated cartoons such as those from Family Guy along with local politicians.

Former politicians also got a plug, with President Abraham Lincoln and former presidential candidate Bob Dole making the list for the U.S. House 9th District.

In an 84-page document compiled by the Hall County Elections Office, plenty of votes went to "Any Democrat," "Any Republican," "none of the above," "anybody else" or "me."

For the governor position, Karen Handel and John Oxendine, who were Republican candidates during the primary, received the most write-in votes.

Others included Voldemort, Mickey Mouse and Ashley Bell, a county commissioner not up for re-election this year.

"I guess it just goes to show that Mickey Mouse isn't as popular as he used to be," Bell said Friday with a laugh. "I know I can't beat him, but gaining on him is the key. I think it shows folks are having a good time."

Pleased by the high turnout, Bell said he is flattered to have a write-in vote for the highest office.

"I'm excited to have a governor from Hall County who had great numbers, so I guess people thought he had it wrapped up so well they could cast a vote for anybody. He had a comfortable margin," Bell said.

"But it is nice to know people will write you in for more responsibilities than you want. I have my hands full in the Hall County Commission, but I hope they remember me in two years when it's my time to come back up."

Frank Norton Jr., who received a vote for lieutenant governor, thinks his write-in votes came from a campaign he created during the election season to pump up his co-workers. He set up ElectNorton.com to encourage people to use his agency "for all your real estate insurance needs."

"I said an election speech to my staff, and we made buttons and signs to create excitement and energy in the business. People have a choice to use what real estate or insurance company they want," he said.

"We had a lot of fun and ran it for four months. People would call up my mom at home and ask which of her boys was running so they could vote. It was something I laughed at, and it helped us to have a lot of energy throughout the year."

On Election Day, one of the agents wore his button into a precinct, where a polling worker asked him to remove it since no campaigning is allowed at precincts.

"He got to wear it through the line after he explained it," Norton said. "I think it's really interesting he got stopped, and we keep having fun. When the Republican headquarters had a meeting with Deal and Cagle and asked if they could park cars in our lot, I said yes and then instructed the staff to put up 100 Elect Norton signs on our property."

The Hall County Elections Office must count up all the write-in names, but only qualified write-in candidates get an official tally, said Charlotte Sosebee, interim elections director. A qualified candidate must give a notice of intent to be a write-in candidate to count, she said. Only a few statewide offices had official write-in candidates.

Down the ballot, one voter repeatedly listed rapper Eminem, whose real name is Marshall Mathers, for seven top state positions. Another voter listed characters from the TV show Seinfeld in different positions. For unopposed seats, such as the U.S. House 9th District race, voters got creative by writing more than 500 names, including Bell, Norton, 9th District primary candidate Lee Hawkins and "dog."

A Times county and state government reporter also got a vote, though her name was misspelled on the ballot as Malissa Weinmann.

"I have no idea who voted for me, but I got a good laugh out of it," Melissa Weinman said. "I don't think I'm headed for a political career any time soon, though."

Only four official write-in votes were tallied in the Hall County office, including one for Brian Russell Brown for U.S. Senate, one for David C. Byrne for governor and two for Howard Miller for state school superintendent.

"Because they are write-ins, we have to at least publish them or make notice of them," Sosebee said. "The list is long for every election. We always enjoy looking at them."

Sosebee also got a write-in vote, and all she could do was laugh.

"I am shocked. I don't know what to say," she said. "I don't know who would do that. I know it wasn't my staff. I think they would know better since only the qualified write-in candidates count."

 

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