Deputy Kootenai County Prosecutor Jim Reierson has been campaigning for write-in votes for the top prosecutor spot in Spokane County, but it’s a race he can’t legally win.
Running as a candidate who prefers the “Law and Order” Party, Reierson lost his bid for that job in the primary. Washington state has statutes and administrative law that prevent a primary loser from filing a petition for a write-in campaign in the general, and without such a petition on file, write-in votes aren’t tallied.
“The votes will not be counted,” State Elections Director Nick Handy said.
“No write-in vote for that candidate is valid,” Katie Blinn, legal adviser to the Secretary of State’s office said. Two state statutes and a section of state administrative code spell that out, she added.
Reierson recently complained that the newspaper was ignoring his write-in campaign, and the fact that he’s not supporting either candidate for that office in the general. In a weekend e-mail, he noted the newspaper has carried stories about other write-in campaigns, including Lisa Murkowski’s write-in campaign for U.S. Senate in Alaska.
(Alaska doesn’t have a law that prohibits a losing primary candidate from running in the general, so Murkowski’s votes can actually be counted and credited to her in that race. For the record: Reierson isn’t supporting either incumbent Steve Tucker or challenger Frank Malone.)
Efforts were unsuccessful this week to contact Reierson to explain why he’d be running for the county’s top legal position by asking voters to cast ballots that are invalid under state law. On Monday he called briefly to return a message and ask for a delay until Tuesday morning because he was tending to a gravely ill friend. On Tuesday, he e-mailed that he preferred “to relax and think about more pleasant memories on a nice sunny day, after dropping off an overdue book at the library. I apologize for not calling you this morning, but I just did not feel like it.”
He did close, however, with this comment on his campaign: “Unlike some candidates, I feel I stand for something positive.”
So as a previous post notes, voters can write in any name they choose on a ballot. But not every name will, or even can, be counted.