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History would suggest that the write-in candidates for County Commissioner have a difficult task ahead of them – especially since three of the four were already pummeled by their own party in the Primary Election -- and it will be interesting to see how many votes they get compared to the usual cornucopia of names that appear when the final results are tallied.

In the 2012 presidential election, Santa Claus received 625 votes in Maryland, including 30 in Carroll. That included 62 during early voting, 11 absentee/provisional and 552 on Election Day, according to the state Board of Elections website. The website only lists the top few write-ins, but the total under the "other write-ins" was 8,788. Add in the votes for the write-in's that were listed individually, including Santa, and the total surpasses 10,000.

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Voters in three of Carroll's five county commissioner districts are being asked to consider write-in candidates. For three of the four, the General Election is a do-over of sorts after they were defeated in the Republican Primary. I don't know, but if you were trounced in the Republican Primary, and Republicans have the majority of voters in the county, it doesn't appear that it will be too easy to get the votes needed from Independents and Democrats to win in the General Election.

In Commissioner District 1, incumbent Robin Frazier will have a more difficult time because there is also a Democrat on the ballot, and she already lost her seat because Republicans rejected her in the primary. In Commissioner District 4, Sean Shaffer and Jim Rowe will have to overcome incumbent Richard Rothschild. Shaffer already failed to do that in the primary, gaining just 134 votes and coming in last in the three-candidate field, but at least there are no Democrats on the ballot in that district, so he and Rowe might be able to get some support from those voters.

In Commissioner District 5, incumbent Doug Howard already beat Cathey Allison in the GOP primary, but she too is looking for a do-over. Given that a large part of her primary campaign was painting Howard as a union-supporting liberal, something that seemingly would appeal to more Democrats, it will be hard for her to overcome that and the lack of support within her own party. But then, Howard only beat her by about 6,000 votes, so perhaps she has a chance.

It is one thing when voters write in names like Santa Claus (or even themselves) as a form of protest against the declared candidates for a given race. It is something entirely different to organize a successful write-in campaign in which you have to convince voters to write your name on the ballot.

In our races, all the candidates have said they are mounting a write-in campaign, but I wonder what would happen if someone started a write-in campaign for someone else and was successful.

District 4 voters already have a choice among three Republicans in the General Election. How about we throw in a fourth? Everyone in that district should write in Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. as their choice. Ehrlich enjoyed a lot of Independent and Democratic support when he successfully ran for governor. And he definitely has the name recognition. The fact that he doesn't live in the district and probably wouldn't want to be a county commissioner may pose problems if he wins, but I think he'd be a great addition to our five-commissioner board.

I would bet that if someone placed "Write-in Ehrich for commissioner" signs at all the polling places in that district on Election Day he'd get quite a few votes.

All joking aside, a lot of people have to be really motivated to go against the candidates who do appear on the ballot in order for write-ins to have any shot at winning. Given the results in Commissioner District 1 and Commissioner District 5, the write-ins are facing a huge mountain they will have to climb. In District 4, Rothschild has ruffled quite a few feathers in his four years as commissioner, but he has already gotten the nod from his party and advanced uncontested on the ballot to the General Election. Democrats, who couldn't even find a candidate to run against him, may like one of the two Republican write-ins as alternatives, but it will be surprising if they garner enough support to unseat the incumbent.

Stranger things have happened, of course, so we'll just have to wait until Nov. 4 to see if any write-in candidates – including Santa – prevail in any of the races.

Jim Lee is the Carroll County Times' Editor. Email him at jim.lee@carrollcountytimes.com.

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