Council write-ins: What were you people thinking?

In political elections that allow voters to choose a write-in candidate, the inner wag in all of us is apt to awaken. The idea is to allow voters the opportunity to eschew the conventional, balloted candidates and exercise their rights as Americans to, by God, pick whomever they damn well please.

The people have spoken: Local radio host Matt Mittan (left) led the pack in City Council write-in votes, receiving six. Meanwhile, even a dummy like Mortimer Snerd snagged a vote.

Xpress obtained a list of all the write-in votes in the recent Asheville City Council election, and despite the lofty notions behind the write-in option, we found that some voters used that blank line to prove themselves wiseacres.

For example, no less than Mortimer Snerd—the wooden, hayseed dummy of long-dead ventriloquist Edgar Bergen—garnered a vote. (When told the news, Snerd responded with a gratified “Nyuck! Nyuck!” and a roll of the eyeballs.)

But seriously, folks … Snerd was but one of many write-ins—some serious, some not—who received votes. And the puppet’s lone vote paled in comparison to local talk-radio avatar Matt Mittan, who took a well-publicized stand against partisan elections and received a relatively whopping six votes—the most cast for any of the 64 write-in candidates, the vast majority of whom received only one.

Many failed Council primary candidates also received write-ins, among them colorful street preacher Christopher Chiaromonte (at least three votes, maybe four or five—some names were mangled); Lindsey Simerly (four votes, ditto the name confusion); Matt Hebb (two votes); Bobby Johnston (one vote); Chris Pelly (one vote); William Meredith (three votes); and Selina Sullivan (two votes). UNCA political-science professor Bill Sabo racked up a respectable three.

Meanwhile, national faux newsman Stephen Colbert received a vote, as did the very deceased former president Franklin D. Roosevelt and the very much alive Republican presidential candidate and Texas Rep. Ron Paul.

In addition to Mittan, local media were well represented in the voting. Xpress contributing outdoors writer Bettina Freese got a nod from someone, as did the Asheville Citizen-Times contributor Cedric Nash, Asheville Global Report‘s Eamon Martin, Daily Planet‘s James Genaro and former Xpress staffer Cecil Bothwell.

And, finally, the write-in results point out to at least one disturbing trend: Lack of voter reading comprehension. Candidates Brownie Newman, Bryan Freeborn, Elaine Lite and Bill Russell each received a write-in vote, despite already appearing on the ballot.


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