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Stein, Sanders, Jesus among local write-in candidates for president

By Josh Bergeron

josh.bergeron@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Not satisfied with breaking an early voting turnout record, Rowan County made history in another way during the 2016 election.

Hundreds of local residents opted to write in a name in the 2016 presidential race.

Official election results show 642 people wrote in someone else’s name for president instead of choosing Republican Donald Trump, Democrat Hillary Clinton or Libertarian Gary Johnson.

The top choice among Rowan residents was Green Party candidate Jill Stein. Many other familiar political names dot the list of write-ins. Election officials suspect some voters wrote in their own name.

Five people wrote “Jesus Christ” in the write-in blank for president.

The number of write-in votes this year is more than any of the presidential elections since 2000 — the earliest year available online. In 2012, a total of 232 Rowan voters wrote in a candidate for president. In 2008 the number of write-in votes was 240. In 2004 and 2008, the number of write-in votes didn’t top 200.

Dissatisfaction with presidential candidates was echoed across North Carolina. As of Tuesday night, 52,194 people wrote in a candidate for president in 2016. Records available online show that’s more than the 2012, 2008 and 2004 presidential election.

Because of North Carolina’s ballot access rules, Stein’s votes are the only ones that technically count. She received 78 votes in Rowan and 6,857 votes across the state.

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., received the second-largest number of write-in votes in Rowan — 27. Sanders lost to Clinton in the Democratic Party primary.

Independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin received the third-largest number of write-in votes — 15.

Other write-in choices that received more than one vote include: Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who received 10 votes; neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who received eight votes; Jesus Christ, who received five votes; U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, who received four votes; Vice-President-elect Mike Pence, who received three votes and U.S. Sen. John McCain, who received two votes.

Two Rowan County residents even wrote in the name of State Rep. Carl Ford, R-76, for president.

Other names on the list of write-in votes include: Mickey Mouse; Harry Potter series character Dumblebore; comic strip character Snoopy; U.S. Sen Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas; and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida.

With 610 write-in votes, the number of write-in choices in the race for Rowan County Soil and Water Conservation District supervisor position nearly topped the total from the local presidential race. Carl Dangerfield is the only person who received enough votes in the race to be counted in the official results reported to the State Board of Elections. Dangerfield received 11 votes.

Bruce Miller ran unopposed for re-election to the soil and water position and was the county’s top vote-getter, with 49,852 votes.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246

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