Write-in ballot count: 'Fictitious characters will be tallied'

Write-in ballot count: 'Fictitious characters will be tallied'

EUGENE, Ore. - Just when you thought the elections were finished, not so fast: 24 people at the Lane County Elections office have the last say.

They've begun the task of counting the votes for Lane County Circuit Court, position 7.

"So don't complete the total column on the far right," Lane County Clerk Cheryl Betschart instructed her captive crew of counters.

It's all write-in ballots, more than 38,000 to go through.  They have to figure out the winner among 5 candidates.  That's because the incumbent, Kitzhaber-appointed Judge Jay McAlpin, missed the filing deadline to put his name on the November ballot. 

McAlpin and 4 others are the write-in candidates.

"This is the first time that I have seen a judge position" in this write-in format, Betschart ttold KVAL News, "so we're possibly going to have some new ground to cover for this office."

Teams of four are going through the ballots.  If there are misspelled names or other mistakes on the ballots, Betschart said it's up to the teams to decide voter intent.

At least the counting crews won't have to worry about "hanging chads" a la Florida this time around, but what if people voted for Mickey Mouse or a TV character?

"Fictitious characters will be tallied," the clerk said.

Officials hope to be able to name a real, human winner - sorry, Mickey - by Friday afternoon.