GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - Roy Schmidt's party switch and "fraud" on the electorate set off a number of maneuvers that now includes write-ins, absentee ballots and stickers.
Schmidt, the current representative in the 76th House district, became a Republican at the last moment of the filing deadline. The lengths he went to do that -- and his recruiting of a decoy Democrat -- led to an investigation that the Kent County prosecutor determined was a "fraud" on the electorate.
Schmidt is still running as a Republican. But both the GOP and the Democrats have write-in candidates -- Bing Goei and Winnie Brinks, respectively. In order to be on the November ballot, Brinks will need to get 5% of the total vote cast in the primary. Goei would have to beat Schmidt outright.
The ability to write-in a candidate has always been available. But with this primary just more than a week away, voters and City Clerk Lori Parks are taking steps to make sure everyone knows how to do it.
In order to vote for a write-in, the voter has to be able to print that candidate's name in the blank spot provided on the ballot, then cast the vote.
Parks said "we'd like you to be as close as you can" in spelling the candidate's name, but there is some leeway.
For example, if a candidate was named William, acceptable printed names would be Bill, Wm., Will or W.
"It's quite liberal as far as making that determination," Parks said. "Is it the voters intent to write in this person's name?"
Some candidates may provide stickers with their name to apply to the ballot, but Parks does not encourage that.
"That sticker could come off when it goes into the tabulator. The sticker could cause a jam when we put the ballot in. I'd like to prevent those kind of things from happening."
She suggests, though, you can use the sticker as a spelling guide.
One other thing: in order for a write-in to count, you have to vote for a qualified, declared write-in candidate. Both Brinks and Goei are qualified, declared write-in candidates.
Absentee ballots are another issue. If a voter already cast a ballot but would like to change their vote, "You would just need to request that you would like to spoil your ballot," Parks said. And voters can do that "for any reason."
So far, only a handful of people have asked to recast their votes.
There's a difference, though, for voters who go to the polls. If you cast your vote at 9 a.m. and decide to change it at 5 p.m., that's too late. You can't re-vote.
"If you've already cast that ballot and it's been tabulated, at that point it's too late."
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