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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

About those write-in campaigns ...

Posted By on Wed, Nov 30, 2011 at 5:46 PM

Assuming you haven't obliterated the 2011 political season from your memory -- and truly, who could blame you? -- you may recall that activists were conducting a pair of write-in campaigns on the November ballot.

In the District Attorney's race, advocates for police accountability were waging a somewhat paradoxical "whisper campaign" to write in the name "Jordan Miles." Miles, of course, is the Homewood high-school student accosted and beaten by undercover police back in 2010. Critics have been hoping -- vainly -- that Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala would press criminal charges against the three officers involved. And Zappala was up for re-election -- unopposed -- this year. 

Elsewhere on the ballot, environmental activist Dana Dolney and her supporters sought to write in her name in the county executive race. This was a reprise of Dolney's impromptu campaign during the spring Democratic primary; environmentalists were upset that all the major candidates in the race supported drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus shale layer. 

So how did these write-in candidates do? Here are the totals, which our very own Chris Young has delivered fresh from the county's Elections Board (which requires a few weeks to tally write-ins):

Jordan Miles: 1,476 write-in votes (out of a total of 3,520 cast)

Dana Dolney: 704 write-in votes (out of total of 1,730 write-ins cast in that race)

On the bright side, the folks behind the Miles effort did garner more support than Republicans bothered to seek. And Dolney improved on her performance in the primary, in which she polled just under 500 votes.

But it's hard to imagine either Zappala, who garnered more than 181,000 votes, or county exec-elect Rich Fitzgerlad (142,000) losing much sleep over that. 

I mean, to not capture a majority of the write-in votes, at least? Oof. If you can't garner the "malcontented smart-ass" vote -- which makes up the write-in electorate -- it might be time to rethink your political strategy.

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