BUFFALO, NY (WIVB) – Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown is now pinning his hopes for re-election on a write-in campaign, and the two men who have the most power in deciding what’s good enough to count as a vote are implying there’s plenty of wiggle room.
“Anything that’s questionable would be up to the commissioners to rule on,” said Jeremy Zellner, the Democratic commissioner on the Erie County Board of Elections.
On Election Day, anyone who wants to write in a candidate’s name has to write it at the bottom of the correct column to count for that race, but even if they don’t fill in the write-in bubble or spell the name correctly, it may be good enough.
“For instance, in the name of the candidate, you could put the first name, last name, use initials,” according to Ralph Mohr, the Republican commissioner for the Erie County Board of Elections. “We even had a court case where someone had the proper last name but wrong first name and the court said that was identifiable enough to the candidate that was running.”
But when News 4 asked Zellner, the Democratic Elections Commissioner if he would accept simply a first name of a candidate, he didn’t go that far.
“Something tells me there’s gonna be a lot of lawyering going on in November in Buffalo,” he said. “I mean, we could rule on something and it could go to court. We’re not always the last destination for candidates here and I’m sure there’ll be attorneys here overseeing the process for the candidates as well.”
Up until about 12 years ago, you used to have to reach up to the top of an elections machine, slide up a lever and hold it up with one hand while writing in the candidate with the other.
But even with electronic balloting, we may know on election night, how many Buffalo voters checked a write in box for Buffalo mayor, but it will probably take at least a week before elections inspectors can look at each one at a table together to figure out which ones are ruled as valid.