Kniffen files as write-in — twice

September 20, 2012 

The races for seats on the Cambria’s services and school district boards each have another official candidate as of Monday, Sept. 10. But voters won’t find Steve Kniffen’s name on the ballot, and there won’t be information about him in the voters’ information pamphlet.

According to the county’s Assistant Clerk Recorder Tommy Gong, Kniffen registered at the Elections Office Monday to run in both races as a write-in candidate.

Kniffen, who chairs Cambria’s Parks Recreation and Open Space Commission and is an active member of the Sons of American Legion Post No. 432, had announced his write-in candidacy intentions in late July, saying he feels the current election system, based on politics and fundraising, needs to be revamped.

Voters who want to cast ballots for Kniffen for Cambria Community Services District Board of Directors or Coast Unified School District Board of Trustees will have to write his name on the appropriate blank on the ballot and fill in the oval beside that line.

Gong said Kniffen must meet all the other requirements of a registered candidate, such as having to file financial records if he raises more than $1,000 in campaign funds.

Write-in votes are cast in nearly every election, Gong said. Some voters have historically used the opportunity to cast protest votes for such noncandidates as Mickey Mouse.

Official write-in candidates aren’t unusual either, Gong said, with at least one in every election cycle, although it’s less common to have one person filing for more than one seat.

Gong recalled that Kenneth Block ran as an official write-in candidate in 2010 for the school board in Atascadero because he wasn’t yet 18 years old when the official filing period ended, but did turn 18 before the conclusion of the write-in registration period. Gong received 489 of 675 write in votes in that election. The winners, however, received from 8,215 to 5,090 votes.

Write-in candidates rarely win, although Sen. Lisa Murkowski did just that in a hotly contested election in 2010 in Alaska, becoming only second U.S. senatorial candidate ever to win as a write-in.

People who wish to file as write-in candidates for local races in the Nov. 6 election can do so through Oct. 23, Gong said. —Kathe Tanner

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