"I know what I'm going to do… I'll write in Mickey Mouse for president!"
Chances are you've actually heard someone proclaim they would write in Mickey Mouse's name on a ballot as a protest to the other candidates that are running for office. Would you believe, though, that this actually happens?
And would you believe that Mickey Mouse — who turned 86 years old Tuesday — isn't the only name that gets written in on Election Day?
Bill Cowles, Orange County's supervisor of elections, has posted a list of all of the "invalid write-in names" from the November 2014 election. A write-in name is invalid if it doesn't exactly match a registered candidate's name for a specific race.
A common assumption is that write-in candidates don't have to go through any official qualifying to be eligible candidates, but that's not the case in Florida.
No joke: Mickey Mouse got 273 write-in votes in Orange County alone. Disney's big cheese garnered write-in votes for offices like governor, commissioner of agriculture, and chair of the Orange County School Board, just to name a few.
Only two other "invalid" vote-getters received more votes: None of the Above, et al, tallied 565 votes; and Orange County School Board District 3 candidate Regina Hellinger received 376 votes, 375 of which were for School Board chair.
Hellinger was defeated in her own race by Linda Kobert, 53–47 percent.
There were some other creative names on the list of invalid write-in candidates. Here are some of the more noticable ones:
- Alfred E. Neuman of MAD Magazine fame: 5 votes for School Board Chair)
- Amy Poehler and Tina Fey (surprisingly NOT for the same office; Poehler for Governor and Fey for School Board Chair)
- Barack Obama (for Florida House District 46, as well as School Board Chair)
- Judge Belvin Perry (6 votes were split between Governor or School Board Chair)
- Bill the Cat (Shockingly, no voters pencilled in Opus the Penguin in any race)
- Bozo the Clown (Insert obvious politician joke here)
- Darth Vader (7 votes? Under-utilization of the Force, apparently)
- Kanye West (1 vote for School Board Chair and 1 vote for Commissioner of Agriculture; no write-in votes received for Kanye's wife, Kim Kardashian)
- Luke Skywalker (only 5 votes? The Force was not strong with this one, either)
- Megatron and Optimus Prime (11 write-in votes calling for a transformation)
- Mr. Two Bits (legendary Florida Gators football pre-game cheerleader)
- Scott Maxwell (4 votes for Governor and School Board Chair, in case his gig at the Orlando Sentinel doesn't pan out)
- Tom Sawyer (not clear if it was for the Mark Twain character or who Rush sang about on "Moving Pictures")
- Wile E. Coyote (campaign materials supplied by the Elections Division of Acme Corporation)
Voters also took the write-in opportunity to offer other suggestions as to how to fill the seats in question. Some of the submissions:
- A Moderate
- Almost Literally Anyone Else
- Any Non-Politician
- Any Other Crook
- Anyone With Sense
- Can't Even Choose the Lesser Evil
- Dismantle the School Board
- Eliminate the Position
- My Cat Would Be Better than Scott or Crist
- Someone Better Than Any of There [sic] Choices
- Someone Honest
We contacted Seminole County Supervisor of Elections Michael Ertel to see if he had a similar list available. Ertel provided the list of the top five invalid write-in candidates from Seminole County from the November 2014 election. They were:
- Jeb Bush - 39
- Mickey Mouse - 23
- Nan Rich - 12
- God/Jesus - 6
- John Morgan - 5
Ertel pointed out that many people will write in their own name or a neighbor's name on a write-in line on a ballot, but Ertel's office doesn't specifically track each and every name.