Ballots other than butterfly

Election Day came and went, and the Walla Walla County’s Web site put up the results of the vote the next day. After looking at the statewide referendum and initiative results, I skimmed down to the city council tallies, and as expected, I did not win the Position 3 race. Technically unopposed, each of the three people running for the open slots on the council won by more than 95 percent of the votes cast. But I did note something interesting: Positions 1 and 2 received more than 97 percent, but Position 3 only got 96.35 percent. What was going on here? Were people getting fatigued—after all, they’d voted for two statewide contests, a state representative, a school board member, port commissioner, and depending on the ballot, other local offices, before getting to the city council seats. I could infer that some of the lost votes. Surely there wasn’t something qualitatively different about the guy running for the third slot, was there? Or did I really get 1 percent of the vote with my 3-week-long Facebook-focused write in campaign?


I had to know.

I emailed the county elections board, not without a fair amount of irony, because several months ago I’d applied for the job of county elections supervisor (hey, I’m grasping at the employment straws here, what can I say). I figured they wouldn’t remember me, or even if they did, that they’d respond to me anyway. I presume the conversation would go something like this:

County Employee #1: Hey Glenda, get a load of this?

Glenda: What, Ralph?

Ralph: That nutjob Everett guy wants to know how many votes he got yesterday.

Glenda: Isn’t that the guy who tried to get your job, Ralph?

Ralph: Sure is. Apparently he had some jerky write-in thing going.

Glenda: Wow, he really is crazy. I bet he named himself after the city of Everett.

Ralph: If he did, he should have stayed west side, then. What a loser!

After having such a conversation, they collected themselves and replied to my email, saying that the county is only required to tally write-in votes if the person on the ticket didn’t get a majority of the votes. Since we can go ahead and say that 96.35 percent is a majority of the votes cast, I don’t think I’ll ever know how many votes I really got, but I’m betting it was more than 20, and certainly more than Mickey Mouse and Yoda combined. I am a little reminded of Richard Pryor’s “None of the Above” campaign in Brewster’s Millions, which, when I first saw it, made absolutely no sense to my 12-year-old brain. Why on earth would anyone cast a vote for no one?

But I’m glad that I started a dialogue, at least among some Walla Wallans, about their local government and how it seems to work (or not, as the case may be). Nobody I talked to seemed to know what these councilmen-elect stand for, what their goals are, how they feel about things like repairing the 25 percent defective water infrastructure in the city.

Along the way, the woman running to retain her seat in the state legislature, Laura Grant, intimated to me that should I want to run “for real” next time, I should let her know. So I think I’ll try to put my toes in the water and see how things really work around here. And sheesh, find some stimulus money for the pipe and road rebuilding, people. That’s got to be better than raising water rates by 50 percent.

In the meantime, I’ve been working of putting several recipes into a cookbook for some holiday presents to our family. This started out as a small idea and has grown rapidly, the point that many more people want a copy of the cookbook than we can afford to produce. So starting next week, I’m going to open a new page on this blog dedicated to our cooking and baking, and links to other foodie blogs we like. I hope you all enjoy it.

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Categories: transplanted


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