Umatilla County Commissioner Larry Givens received 595 out of 783 write-in votes in the Nov. 6 election. He may have received another 20 or so write-ins, but the county Elections Division could not allocate those names to his total.
Elections staff certified the tallies from the general election Wednesday morning. The results confirmed Givens’ write-in campaign to retain the position 2 seat on the county board needed about 14,000 more votes to defeat John Shafer, the mayor of Athena, who received 15,025 votes, a tick more than 95 percent of the total.
While nearly 600 ballots displayed “Larry Givens,” eight voters wrote in “Larry Gibbons,” the same number who wrote in Mickey Mouse and Rick Pullen, the challenger in the race for the position 1 seat on the county board. Tom Bailor, former commissioner candidate, had 10 write-ins. Another six voted for “Givens,” and one person each voted for “Larry Givons,” “L. Givens,” “Larry Gibens,” “Gibbons” and “Gibens.”
County elections manager Kim Lindell said at first glance those names could all be for Commissioner Givens, but elections staff cannot make those assumptions.
“There could be a Larry Gibbons,” she said. “That could be an actual person.”
Likewise, L. Givens could just as easily mean a Linda or Louise as a Larry. She also questioned if voters who wrote in some versions of the name knew who they were voting for. When it doubt, she said, the elections office puts names in their own line in the tally.
Just like Mickey and his buddy, Goofy, who ended up with one vote. Lindell said Mickey Mouse remains the most popular cartoon character that people write in.
Goofy should not feel too bad. Bruce Wayne, Ms. America — the title, not the actual person — John Wayne, Tom Hanks, Dwayne Johnson, Barak Obama and “Basic Campfire” received single votes as well in the county commissioner race, as did local real-life character Mark Gomolski of Hermiston and Rex Morehouse of Pendleton.
Every race with a candidate on the ballot comes with a line for voters to write in someone else. But the elections department does not break out the write-ins for all races. In state races for supreme court judge, for example, the write-ins are too few to matter. Lindell said just about every big-name wrestler from the 1980s appeared on those ballots, from Andre the Giant to Randy Savage.
“We look at every ballot and any write-in,” she said.
Adams and Helix residents continued to follow their tradition of using write-in votes to decide who will serve as major and city councilors.
M. Dane Holmes remains the mayor of Adams with eight votes out of 40. Nine candidates received two votes each. And Kim Herron won the mayor’s seat in Helix with nine out of 37 write-ins.
Jeff Rost won in the race for Adams City Council, taking 13 of the 47 votes. Monica Curtiss ran away from the field for position 4 on the Helix City Council, taking 22 of the 30 votes. Glen Tipton took the position 5 seat on the Helix City County with 19 of 29 votes, and Julie Harper received 20 out of 31 votes for position 6.
Lindell said the tradition can be troublesome. Past elections resulted in one person winning two seats.
“If they are not going to put people on the ballot,” she said, “they need to make sure people are writing names in the right places.”