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Guest Eloise

Write-in ballot

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Guest Eloise

Is a 'ballot' distributed in advance to members with pre-printed choices (not by the secretary) valid and can it be considered a write-in ballot even though those who used it didn't actually write it in themselves? We have had an election coup orchestrated by a group who created an amended ballot by stapling this 'write-in' section and distributed it to a select group of members.

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What they did is a little dubious, but probably not quite an "election coup". Did it work?

(After all how many filled in ballots have you received in the mail these past few weeks?)

It is up to the membership at the election meeting to decide if the preprinted choices are valid votes - RONR, p. 416, line 10 ff.

But without your bylaws, or adopted voting procedures in hand, in hand (NO!, we won't read them here) I can't say much more than that. Perhaps others will rush in where I fear to tread.

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That would be for the assembly to decide for itself (RONR p. 416 ll. 10-19) and if I were one of the members I would probably be inclined to consider those ballots as illegal votes unless the original ballot was not pre-printed (so it was obvious that the voter was choosing to vote for someone who wasn't nominated) or it was obvious that the voters in question didn't think that the pre-printed ballot was the "official" ballot (trouble could arise if these "write in" votes were viewed as the nominees rather than un-nominated write-in votes).

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Guest Edgar

I'm not sure we're clear on what actually happened here but let's assume that there were no official ballots (i.e. the members would be submitting their votes on what used to be blank pieces of paper). Someone pre-prints ballots with the names candidates and distributes these to some members to use. Voting is then done in person with whatever pieces of paper the members choose to use for ballots. All that needs to be verified is the voter, not the ballot.

If this is what happened (and it might be a big "if"), I see no problem. Or (as I re-read the original question) if this homemade "ballot" was attached to the official ballot I think I see no problem with that either. It was just a matter of convenience (and you get the spelling of the names right!).

Eloise should note that the term "write-in" typically refers to a candidate or to a vote for that candidate, not to the actual ballot itself. So pre-printed "write-in votes" were attached to the official ballot. Again, sounds okay to me. No different than using pre-printed address labels instead of handwriting the address.

I suspect there'd have been no objections if the write-in candidates had lost.

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It sounds to me like you are misunderstanding the term "write-in". According to RONR, a write-in candidate is a candidate wo was not nominated for a position, but whose name is literally written on the ballot. However, the ballots may, if the assembly chooses, have the names of all those nominated in advance to be pre-printed on the ballot, with a blank space preferably at the bottom for a write-in candidate, and members can circle, or place an 'x' beside the candidate(s) they are voting for.

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Guest Edgar

. . . a write-in candidate is a candidate . . . whose name is literally written on the ballot.

Although in this case it appears that some members stapled a pre-printed list of candidates to the official ballot and the question, at least to the extent that I understand it, is whether this is kosher.

I would think that, as long as the intent of the voter is clear, the ballots should be accepted.

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Chris, what wouldn't you like about it?

My concern is if the members receiving these pre-printed ballots didn't understand that they had other options. Basically if the voter knew that this pre-printed ballot contained un-nominated candidates and he had the option to vote for those who actually were nominated I wouldn't have a problem with it but if they didn't know that others were nominated I would have a problem with that.

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But Chris, wouldn't that just disenfranchise the misled voters, not the presumed deceivers?

I suppose it would. However, the illegal votes would count towards the tally and with luck there would be an incomplete election and they can do things correctly the next time.

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