AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine voters who don’t think they have enough choices for governor among the five candidates on the Nov. 2 ballot have plenty of other options.
Five declared write-in candidates hope to stage miracle Election Day triumphs. Four are listed as independents and one as unenrolled, although both terms mean the same because there’s no independent party.
The independents include businessman Samuel “Samme” Bailey of Gorham, homeless advocate Edwin Braley of South Portland, educator Beverly Cooper-Pete of Portland and former state senator and mayor John Jenkins of Auburn. Former race car driver Martin Vachon of Mariaville is listed as unenrolled.
Among the most active have been Bailey, who foresees an 11th-hour surge of the kind that put independent James Longley in the Blaine House in 1974, and Jenkins, the black-belt martial arts instructor who served one term in the Maine Senate as well as mayor of both Lewiston and Auburn.
Only declared write-ins can have their votes counted in initial tallies.
Under the state law, an undeclared write-in who gets the most votes does not win unless that candidate requests a post-election recount. A 2009 revision makes it acceptable for voters simply to write down the candidate’s name; in the past, voters had to write down name and hometown.
The 2009 law also requires election officials to post a list of declared write-in candidates with the office sought next to the sample ballot that is posted for voters at the polls.
In addition to the five gubernatorial write-ins, a number of declared write-ins also are seeking other offices, including U.S. and Maine House seats. Among them is the one-named Jarody of the unofficial Taxed Enough Already party in Augusta who is seeking a Maine House seat.
Some voters may view write-ins as wasted votes, especially when nonsensical, fictitious or cartoon names are written in. State election officials don’t know how many silly names wind up on ballots because they aren’t tallied. But they make no presumption or judgment that a write-in vote is a throwaway vote.
“People vote for a lot of reasons,” said John Smith, a deputy secretary of state. “Sometimes it’s to get the candidate they support in office. Sometimes it’s to send a message.”
In some cases, the write-in process is used effectively by political parties to field a candidate in primaries so they are assured of having a candidate’s name on the general election ballot, Smith noted.
Jenkins, for one, already has had success as a write-in. After declining to run for Auburn mayor in 2007 he was drafted in a write-in campaign. He dropped out of the 2002 campaign for governor after falling short on both nomination papers and campaign contributions. He was also unsuccessful in 2006.