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Voters write off some races with write-ins

November 28, 2006|by KAREN HANNA

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Some voters say they can't imagine worse picks than the ones on the ballot.

Others must figure even Satan could do better.

On Nov. 7, the day of this year's general election in Washington County, Satan picked up at least one vote.

So did God, Frank Zappa and Peter Pan, Washington County Board of Elections write-in ballot results show.

One Hagerstown man who picked up a couple of write-in votes in the race for state senator said he was serious when he submitted his name.

"I think I was the best candidate that I voted for this year," said Gerald D. "Jerry" Moser of Hagerstown, who researched some candidates before the election by calling them personally.

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Moser collected at least two write-in votes.

More than 300 people wrote in names, including Moser's, to challenge unopposed incumbent Republican Sen. Donald F. Munson, but he kept his seat. In the state senator race, 1.1 percent of voters cast write-in ballots - the highest percentage of any local race.

Only the votes for people who officially have filed as write-in candidates are counted separately, said Natasha Walker of the Maryland State Board of Elections.

Munson said he believed some voters decided to vent their frustrations with him by casting write-in ballots. Despite competition from Scooby-Doo, Willie Nelson and "me," Munson took 98.9 percent of the vote.

"It just leaves me with the impression that there are people around that don't take their franchise seriously," Munson said.

Cartoon characters, biblical figures and pop-culture icons all found representation in write-in candidates. Homer Simpson, Hunter S. Thompson, Alice Cooper and even politicians who were not running, including Bill Clinton and Robert E. Bruchey II, collected votes.

King Solomon got a nod for judge of Washington County Orphans Court.

Some voters probably were having fun with their choices, while other voters likely wanted different options, state Del. Christoper B. Shank said.

Either way, Shank said he's satisfied.

"Obviously, you can't please 100 percent of the people, but I'll take 99 percent any day of the week," said Shank, who as an unopposed candidate also drew one of the highest amounts of write-in votes in local elections.

A little more than 1 percent of voters cast write-in ballots opposing the Republican incumbent.

The touch-screen keypad gave some voters a way to comment on the current state of affairs.

Variations on "not him," "no confidence" and "none" were popular choices.

In the 10-way race for Washington County Commissioner, someone followed the phrase "anyone but this" with a seven-letter expletive.

In the race for Washington County Board of Education, "separation of church and state" tied with "pay your teachers their due wages."

Professor Spring Ward, whose political science students partnered with The Herald-Mail, the League of Women Voters of Washington County and Antietam Cable Television to host candidates' forums before the election, laughed Wednesday when asked about the vote she received.

"Very flattering - probably an overzealous relative or a misguided student," said Ward, who was coy when asked what her priorities were as a candidate.

"I'll have to check the poll results and let you know," Ward said with a laugh.

Moser, 73, a Korean War veteran, said he is too old to considering launching a real campaign, but he would if he could.

"If I had my life to live over again, I'd get into politics just to straighten things out," Moser said.

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