By Greg Bird
With the Primary Election not even a month behind us, attention has already turned toward the November 12 General Election this fall, particularly concerning write-in candidates.
County Clerk Eric Haynes Confirms one individual has already registered to run as a write-in this fall. Donnie Smith has declared as a write-in candidate for the Constable District 1 position.
Darrell Hansford won the Republican nomination for the post in May and will face off against Democrat Chuck Duncan on the November ballot.
Haynes said he has received several inquiries concerning registering as a write-in, but Smith is the only Candidate to do so thus far. Write-in’s must register with Haynes’ office, or the Kentucky Secretary of State on or before October 26th to be eligible and have their votes counted on election night.
Though considered official candidates, write-ins will not have their name on the ballot in November, and must rely on voters to physically write their names on the ballot.
State law prohibits any candidate who declared for an office in the Primary Election from running as a write-in for the same office in the fall, but they can register for another office.
While write-in’s are pretty commonplace in General Elections, one such candidate brought state-wide and national attention to McCreary County following the 2006 General Election.
Gus Skinner had announced his desire to run for Sheriff as a write -in late in the 2006 campaign, opposing Primary winners Randy Waters and Milford Creekmore.
After a furious campaign over the final months of the election; on election night Skinner was declared the winner in a stunning victory, fending off Democrat Randy Waters by just 23 votes, and Republican Milford Creekmore by 24. Skinner was reportedly the first local write-in winner for a county-wide office, and only the second one to do so in Kentucky.
His celebration was cut short after a recanvass was requested by his opponents in the race. It was during that recanvass that 57 votes for Skinner were disallowed, citing the votes simply had the name “Gus.” The McCreary County Election Board ruled that first-name only did not qualify as a legal vote.
Following the recanvass Waters was declared Sheriff, and was sworn in and assumed office in January.
Skinner had filed a lawsuit challenging the Election Board’s ruling, claiming the 57 individuals whose votes were thrown out had shown their intent to vote for Skinner.
The Court upheld Skinner’s challenge, noting that the voters had clearly intended to vote for the write-in, and ruled the votes had to be counted, thus declaring him the winner in February.
Skinner won his first re-election campaign in 2010, defeating Waters by more than 1,000 votes. Waters prevailed in 2014, unseating Skinner as he sought his third term of office – winning by 445 votes.