By Joel Hall
Since the July 15 primary, a small online campaign has sought to change the course of the election with a slate of write-in candidates. According to state and local election officials, however, those voting for write-in candidates on Nov. 4 will be doing so in vain.
The deadline to file as a write-in candidate for the Nov. 4 general election was Sept. 2. According to Annie Bright, director of the Clayton County Board of Elections, there are no candidates in the county who registered in time.
"They have to file to be a write-in candidate, and that filing period is over," said Bright. "Nobody did, so we don't have any official write-in candidates."
According to Whitney Halterman, a spokesperson for the Georgia Secretary of State, those planning to run as a write-in candidates in the general election are required to file a notice of intent with the Secretary of State or local board of elections (depending on whether the office is a state or local position, respectively) by the Tuesday after the first Monday in September (Sept. 2).
In addition, write-in candidates are required to publish the notice in a newspaper of general circulation by Sept. 2, and send a copy of the published notice to the Secretary of State or local election office by Sept. 7.
One web site, www.writeinclayton.org, is urging people to "maintain the progress" by voting in on slate of candidates to oppose several candidates who won in the July 15 primary and the Aug. 5 runoff. The web site claims that "crossover voting" and "ambiguous" campaigning have been used in the 2008 election season to divide the black electorate, and "remove effective black leadership."
The web site provides instructions on write-in voting, provides a hyperlink to practice write-in voting online, and even offers a sample ballot with a list of suggested write-in candidates.
The ballot suggests the following people for the following offices: Jewel Scott, outgoing District Attorney, for chairman of the Clayton County Board of Commissioners; Ricky Redding, a deputy with the Sheriff's Department, for Clayton County Sheriff; Leslie Miller Terry, outgoing solicitor general, for District Attorney; and Jonathan Newton, public information officer with the Sheriff's Department, for Clerk of Court.
According to Bright, however, no one in Clayton County filed to run as a write-in candidate before the cutoff date. She is urging citizens not to waste their vote.
"They can write them in all day long," said Bright. "If they didn't meet the specifications, it won't mean anything. If they're not official, they won't be counted."