Astronaut, college coach among thousands of ballot write-ins


COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — An astronaut, a college football coach and possibly a reality television “bad girl” are among the non-contenders that certain exasperated Ohioans voted to send to the White House in last week’s election.

John Glenn and Ohio State coach Urban Meyer are among uncertified candidates written in as alternatives to Republican Donald Trump, Democrat Hillary Clinton and the other options. Another write-in was “Megan James,” perhaps referring to Mehgan James of reality TV’s “Bad Girls Club” and “Basketball Wives LA.”

Ohio Republicans to the highest levels reported going with ineligible write-in candidates.

Instead of supporting Trump, Gov. John Kasich scratched in the name of Sen. John McCain, the party’s 2008 presidential nominee. U.S. Sen. Rob Portman registered his lack of support for Trump by writing in his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.

Statistics suggest the trend was rampant.

An Associated Press analysis found more than 20,000 uncertified write-in votes were cast in the eight of Ohio’s 10 largest counties for which data is available. That well exceeds the roughly 16,000 combined votes cast statewide for 18 certified presidential write-ins, as reflected in final unofficial results.

Ohio logged a scant 37 total write-in votes for president in 2012, according to the Secretary of State’s website.

Voters’ ineligible presidential picks are difficult to determine. Most counties contacted by the AP said they don’t keep lists, because the uncertified write-in votes don’t count and aren’t required to be tallied or reported to the state.

Lorain County elections clerk Dave Stambol said there’s also another reason: “We always get the people who write in their own name so they can see themselves in the newspaper. So we just don’t go there.”

A sampling of names was provided by Franklin County in central Ohio. It included Glenn, who’s a Democratic former senator, as well as Meyer, James, Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona and a host of past presidential contenders.

Among them were Kasich and fellow 2016 aspirants Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum and Bernie Sanders. The GOP’s 2012 nominee, Mitt Romney, U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan and Congresswoman Joyce Beatty were also among those reported, formally and anecdotally.

A social media rumor that votes were cast for Harambe, the gorilla killed by the Cincinnati Zoo to protect a child that had entered his enclosure, aren’t confirmable. The Board of Elections in his home county of Hamilton declined to provide any information on its uncertified write-ins.

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