MAYVILLE - With the state's new voting machines comes the likelihood that more candidates will be written in each election.
On Monday, the Chautauqua County Board of Elections released the many names which were written in for the office of sheriff during the Nov. 2 general election.
Running unopposed, Joe Gerace was re-elected as county sheriff for another term with 27,921 votes. A total of 250 write-in votes, however, were also cast in the race, according to the list released Monday by Republican Election Commissioner Brian Abram and Democratic Election Commissioner Norman P. Green.
Unlike voting with the old lever machines, all voters at the polls this past election season had a pen and paper in their hands, "thus promoting a greater opportunity for the voter to 'write in' candidates in every race," Abram wrote in an e-mail Tuesday to The Post-Journal.
Of the 250 votes, a total of 65 were deemed "other" by the Board of Elections, meaning names like "Mickey Mouse" were written in as opposed to eligible county residents. The rest were a mix of people voting for themselves and votes cast for local law enforcement and elected officials. Individuals such as John Bentley, David Bentley, John Runkle, Brandon Maggio and Todd Issacson all received votes, as did individuals such as Mark Tarbrake, Ray Hall, Phil Cala and George Bush. The full list of names can be found online with this story at www.post-journal.com.
"I think there's a variety of reasons," Gerace said of the many write-in votes. "Obviously, there are people that are upset with me, so that's going to happen. But you've got the new electronic voting systems, and writing in is much easier than it ever has been in the past."
For others, Gerace said, the opportunity to write in a candidate was likely done just for entertainment.
"They knew it was not an election that was going to be determined by a write-in because I was unopposed," Gerace said. "So they wrote in somebody for fun and it was kind of a gag, which, that's not something I would do, but I can't speak for everyone.
"It's very easy now," Gerace continued. "In the past, you had to lift the flap and get a writing instrument and now it's right on your form. It's really something that has to be considered of future candidates and races. It's very easy to write in under the new ballot system."