On November 5, a Colorado state district court ruled that votes for write-in candidates in which the voter forgot, or didn’t know, to also fill in the oval next to the write-in line should be counted. The 4-page decision is here. Kathleen Curry is a write-in candidate for re-election to the Colorado state house. The initial machine tallies show that she may have won the election, or she may not have won. The number of ballots considered to be undervotes in her race is larger than the margin between Curry and her Democratic opponent (the Republican in the race clearly came in third, and has conceded). An “undervote” in this context means a ballot in which the vote-counting device believes no vote was cast. The machine, of course, can’t know if the voter cast a write-in, unless the voter filled in the oval next to the write-in line. Only a human count can find such votes. As a result of the ruling, there will be such a human-eye count. It is possible the Secretary of State will appeal this decision to the State Supreme Court, however.
The ruling says, “The overall intent of the election code is to permit qualified electors to cast their votes for eligible candidates and ballot issues of their choosing, not to thwart the intent of voters by imposing technical obstacles…Refusing to count these votes would thwart the clear intention of the electorate, as well as the intent of the election code.” The ruling says that these types of votes only need to be counted when they may affect the outcome of the race.
This ruling could have implications for the Alaska write-in tally. Both the Colorado and Alaska code seem to say that a write-in vote is not valid if the voter didn’t fill in the oval.