The Valdosta Daily Times
It appears Mickey Mouse polled higher in the Lowndes County general election than Libertarian Gary Johnson did in the presidential race.
Mickey, the famous doe-eyed Disney cartoon character, earned 1.7 percent of the write-in vote in all races combined, appearing 76 times in some form or another (some voters misspelled his name) out of 4,361. Johnson won 323 votes out of 39,221, or just above .82 percent.
That said, Mickey did have a lot of competition. Otherwise, his numbers would have probably improved.
Instead of voting for the offered candidates nationally and locally, some voters wrote in their preferred candidates from actual local people who were not candidates such as area radio personalities and a vote for The Times’ long-time movie critic Adann-Kennn Alexxandar, to characters such as Mickey Mouse and historic figures.
Jesus Christ, for example, took .5 percent away from Mickey, earning 22 votes. His name appeared on ballots in several incarnations ranging from his name to a fuller title — Sovereign God My Lord Jesus Christ.
While four third-party candidates appeared on the ballots — Johnson, Jill Stein of the Green Party, Virgil Goode of the Constitution Party and Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party — Mickey’s third-party opponents in the write-in poll included these and more.
Batman earned nine write-in votes, including one stoolie who opted to nominate him through his secret identity, Bruce Wayne. Perhaps the voter preferred the millionaire playboy over the armor-clad crime-fighter.
Chuck Norris earned eight votes, along with “Me,” a candidate of various identities based on association.
Seven votes each went to two famous fowl, Donald Duck and Big Bird, while their contemporary Daffy Duck earned only five. A candidate spelled “Poo” in all cases (whether this is an attempt at bathroom humor or a reference to Winnie the Pooh, we may never know), earned six votes.
Confederate General Robert E. Lee earned six votes as well, beating out other present and former American leaders Jimmy Carter, Colin Powell, Bill Clinton, James Madison, Hillary Rodham Clinton and George Bush (Senior and Junior).
Professional wrestler Ric Flair, Jack Daniels (the liquor, not its namesake Jack Daniel), and Santa Claus all earned three votes, and Martin Luther King’s name appeared twice as “MLK.”
Most of the cast of the Star Wars saga appeared in the Lowndes County polls. Darth Vader, Qui-Gon Jinn, Yoda, Mace Windu, R2-D2, C3PO, Luke Skywalker, Boba Fett, Han Solo, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Darth Sidious and Leia Organa earned a nomination, each in different races.
This represents two Dark Side votes, while the Good Side of the Force remains in power with eight, Boba Fett abstaining. (Bounty hunters affiliate with neither the Empire nor the Rebellion.)
In addition to Big Bird, Jim Henson earned three other votes — one each for Miss Piggy, Kermit the Frog and Cookie Monster.
In cartoons, Loony Tunes characters took control over their competitors, with three votes for Bugs Bunny and a vote each for Elmer Fudd, Wile E. Coyote, Porky Pig and Foghorn Leghorn, in addition to Daffy’s five. Walt Disney's Minnie Mouse and Simba from “The Lion King” earned a vote each to add to Donald’s seven, excluding Mickey.
Hanna-Barbera’s camp took third place with a vote each for Fred Flintstone and Scooby-Doo.
Superheroes Jean Grey and Charles Xavier of the X-Men also appeared alongside criminal mastermind the Joker, Spider-Man, Superman (who earned two votes), and Tony Stark, also known as Iron Man.
Actors Tom Cruise, John Cleese, Cheech Marin and Roseanne Barr earned a nomination each, while porn star Ron Jeremy earned two.
Musicians Willie Nelson, M.C. Hammer, Gene Simmons, James Brown, Chaka Khan, Keith Richards and Seal took a nomination each, along with fictional characters Percy Jackson and Sheldon Cooper and historical icons Sir Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein.
Some voters seemed content to use their write-in powers as a formal soap box, pushing their right to free speech to the limit with several profane and explicit entries. Others vented their opinions with write-ins such as “I hate court,” “I hate judges,” “I hate racism.”
One voter wrote “Anybody else but her” for county commissioner, District 1, and others voted for “lower taxes,” “freedom,” and “a patriot” on their write-in ballots.
Still others took the silly route, casting votes for Dr. Seuss’ Sam I Am, wrestler Dusty Rhodes, and Tommy Hawk.
On a more serious note, Lowndes County coroner write-in candidate Terry Hawke earned 204 votes in his race against Bill Watson, who earned the vast majority with 30,283.
While outright messages such as those listed above “don’t require any interpretation,” said Lowndes Board of Elections Supervisor Deb Cox, these votes for cartoon characters and impossible candidates don’t represent any personal belief or political trend, but merely voters having a good time.
“I think it’s just entertainment,” Cox said. “You’d be surprised how many people come in who get copies of those. Students write their own names in. Of course, if you don’t know who you’re voting for, and you don’t want to cast a vote, it’s a good opportunity to nominate someone you do know.”
Cox also explained that in the cases of those who voted for “Me” to indicate a nomination for themselves, those votes represent whoever has that name rather than the voter who cast it.
“You can’t identify ‘Me’ because voters’ names are confidential,” Cox said. “You can’t connect a voter to a ballot in any way, shape or form, so we don’t know who ‘Me’ is.”
We could look at these write-ins in yet another light: a vote for an American celebrity, former leader, fictional character or cartoon is a vote for the American culture we hold so dear (with the exception of the British, of course Richards, Newton and Seal).
Or we could just point and laugh.