If some voters had their way, Mickey Mouse would be an Arizona senator. And U.S. president. And a mayor. And on every local school board. Donald Duck, a close runner-up for all those races, likely would concede.
Mickey has always been the front-runner among fake write-in candidates. Superheroes from Marvel comics are popular, too, along with other characters from box-office favorites around election time. Some voters write in their names, or names of friends or family members. Others go on rants about politics on the write-in line.
While some may find it funny, Maricopa County elections officials aren’t laughing.
Every write-in entry must be verified with the list of legitimate write-in candidates for that election, by a three-member review team. In the August primary election, Maricopa County elections officials saw the biggest ratio of fake-to-legitimate write-in candidates in recent memory: Among 90,433 entries in write-in slots, 1,738 were votes for legitimate write-in candidates.
Each fake entry cost Arizona counties money and manpower and slowed down the tabulation process, said Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell, who oversees elections.