Vote (copy)

Empty voting booths after the lunch hour on Primary Election Day in June at the West Fairfax precinct.

In the elections this November political history will be made right here in Culpeper, Madison, and Orange Counties.

In addition to the political drama unfolding across the commonwealth as Democrats attempt to gain total control of our state government by overtaking slim Republican majorities in the House of Delegates and State Senate, the largest write-in campaign in Virginia history will be waged by Republican Delegate Nick Freitas.

For any who may not know, the Democrat-controlled Board of Elections in Richmond has barred the Republican Party access to the ballot in the 30th District House of Delegates election after some paperwork was submitted to an outdated email address at the Department of Elections, which led to the paperwork being turned in late. Despite extensions being granted to several other candidates, Republican incumbent delegate, Nick Freitas, will not appear on the ballot. This all led to Delegate Freitas announcing last month that he would mount a write-in campaign as the Republican nominee in the 30th District.

The last major write-in campaign in Virginia was in 1989 by Jack Stump in Buchanan and Tazewell Counties. He won that election with just under 9,000 votes. Estimates based on population growth and usual voter turnout in state election years suggest the winner of the Freitas write-in race is likely to receive much more than the 9,000 votes with which Jack Stump won his write-in. This would make the Freitas write-in the largest in Virginia history, if he is successful.

With the historic nature of this campaign, I seek to educate readers on the write-in process and how to legally cast a write-in vote, if you wish to vote for the Republican nominee in this election.

Voting in a write-in campaign is a markedly different process than voting for a conventional on-the-ballot candidate. Whether you intend to vote absentee or on Election Day it is crucial to understand the exact process that casts a write-in vote in order for your vote to count.

When coming upon the section of the ballot that requires a vote for “Member, House of Delegates 30th District,” the ballot will instruct the voter to “vote for no more than one.” Only one name, that of the Democrat challenger, will appear. Below the listed name of the Democrat challenger, however, will be an option that reads, “write in.” Voters who wish to write in the name of Delegate Nick Freitas must write his name in this area in order for the vote to count.

There are two important actions required to ensure that a write-in vote is counted. First, just like when voting for a candidate listed on the ballot, the bubble next to the spot that reads “write-in” must be filled in, completely. Here, in Culpeper County, that bubble will take the form of an oval. In Madison County, the bubble will instead be a rectangle; and in Orange County, a rectangle with rounded corners. Filling in the bubble triggers the vote-counting machine to count the vote. As such, if the bubble is not filled in, no vote will be counted, regardless of whether or not a name is written on the corresponding line.

After filling in the bubble, voters must then write in “Nick Freitas,” on the designated line for write-ins. While filling in the bubble ensures that the vote is counted, it is the name written on the line that decides who the vote counts for. While it is best to spell Nick Freitas’ name correctly, vote counters will attempt to search for the voter’s intent in the case of misspellings. If you want to ensure your vote counts, you should spell Nick Freitas’ name as accurately as possible.

While not as simple as just filling in a bubble, the write-in process is straightforward enough that most voters should have no issue casting a vote for their preferred candidate. Most importantly, anyone confused on Election Day may ask an election official for help, and those who have poor vision or would otherwise struggle to write-in a candidate are able to request assistance.

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Jon Russell has served on the

Culpeper Town Council for two terms, and chairs the Culpeper County Republican Committee. His opinions represent his personal views.

(1) comment

David Reuther

Mr. Russell’s column contains important instructions on how to handle a write-in vote, but he would have saved his colleague’s face if he had not started out with a misrepresentation of the facts. To run for office in Virginia, at least three documents have to be filed, see https://www.elections.virginia.gov/candidatepac-info/candidate-forms/. One document is filed by the political party that states you are its candidate. The 30th District Republican nominating committee did not file this document. Then the candidate has to file two documents. One is a 30+ page financial disclosure form, Mr. Freitas did not file this form for himself, but he filed it for his wife in her Tea Party primary challenge of Senator Hanger. Another is a Certification of Candidate Qualifications; Mr. Freitas did not file this document. Unfortunately, the Board of Elections in Richmond had no grounds to place Mr. Freitas on the ballot, because he did not turn in his homework. Why a candidate who has successfully navigated this process twice before (or three times if you count his wife’s primary) suddenly failed is difficult to understand. But it is what it is, and the Board of Elections had nothing to do with Mr. Freitas predicament.


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