Belinda Conaway, Shannon Sneed among candidates pursuing write-in votes

Belinda Conaway says it's "a very easy process"

to elect a write-in candidate. Supporters of the two-term City Council incumbent, who lost to newcomer Nick Mosby by about 650 votes in the hotly contested 7th District Democratic primary Sept. 12, may choose “write in” when prompted on the voting machine, then key in Conaway’s name. “It will count if it’s spelled wrong,” she says.


Conaway is one of a handful of candidates for City Council who lost in this year’s primary who are making a point of running as write-ins for the Nov. 1 general election. Shannon Sneed, a former TV news reporter who lost the 13th District City Council Democratic primary by only 43 votes to one-term incumbent Warren Branch, is also staying in as a write-in. She says she received too much support to drop out. “According to the Board of Elections, there is no other Sneed in the race—if [voters] write s-n-e-a-d we’ll be fine,” she says while canvassing her east-side neighborhoods. “I just talked to someone and they said, ‘I know how a write-in works, I was gonna write you in anyway.’”

Although any voter can write in anyone’s name in any election, for the votes to count the candidate has to file with the state Board of Elections. The process is not very different from getting one’s name on the ballot, except the filing fee is waived and there is no need to gather a certain number of signatures on a petition. The filing deadline is a week before the general election, according to the state Board of Elections web site.

The 13th District race looks to be a possible runoff between Sneed and Branch, without the other three Democratic candidates pulling votes from them. Democrat Antonio Glover, who received 693 votes in the primary, has reportedly thrown his support behind Sneed. There is no Republican running in the race.

In the 7th District, Michael J. Bradley is running under the Republican banner. He ran in 2007 for the 9th District but did not campaign actively then, and does not appear to be doing so this time either. His campaign has no web site and he did not list a phone number on his candidate filing with the state Board of Elections. He received 86 votes in the primary election, city election records show; there was no listed Republican opponent. Mosby, who won the primary with the backing of unions and Gov. Martin O’Malley, has continued to campaign. On Oct. 5, he appeared before a rally of the Service Employees International Union downtown and pleaded for their continued support.

Conaway says she is hoping to attract 6,000 voters in the general election—about 500 more than voted for all the candidates combined in the Sept. 13 primary. “You never know,” she says. “Turnout in the general election is generally a little bit lower [than the primary], unless they do a big get-out-the-vote effort.”

Mosby’s team produced sharp attack ads toward the end of the primary campaign, questioning Conaway’s city residency. Conaway answered back by questioning Mosby’s handling of his mother’s estate.

“Life would be easier for some people if Belinda Conaway was not there to say, ‘This is wrong,’” Conaway says. “I can’t be disingenuous to people I’m supposed to serve. A lot of times the write-in process is categorized as being very difficult, but it’s not. If you can use a phone, if you can use an ATM machine, you can vote write-in.”

Other Democratic candidates who have already filed as write-ins for the general election include Adam Van Bavel and Erica S. White, both running against Edward Reisinger in the 10th District, and Michael E. Johnson, who came in fifth in the 9th District behind appointed incumbent William “Pete” Welch, Abigail Breiseth, Chris Taylor, and John T. Bullock.