As November draws closer and local elections begin to heat up, some area races are left with less candidates for office than open positions, while other races have no candidate filed to run at all.
According to the Richland County Board of Elections, In the Village of Butler, there are currently no candidates filed to run for mayor, as incumbent Butler Mayor Kevin Carr has not declared his formal intent to run, and the race for two vacant council positions has current councilman Joshua Haring filed as the lone candidate.
Clear Fork’s School Board race also faces a similar situation as Randall Freeman is the single candidate filed for two available spots on the board.
As voters take to the polls, what happens in these unusual political occurrences?
There are esentially two basic outcomes that can result from unmanned elections.
First, a write-in candidate may be elected by popular vote through a similar process to those who filed a petition to run.
“A write-in candidate will not appear on the ballot,” said Hankins. “(When a write-in files for a particular race) it triggers a write in field within the race, in which the voter has to write in the candidate’s name on the ballot. If they’re voting absentee on paper ballots, they have to fill in the oval beside the words write in with the candidate’s name.”
In races that have an equal number of candidates and open positions, the person running needs one vote to win that position states Hankins. Races that have more write-ins than available positions are decided by a similar process to that of regular elections, and candidates receiving the most write-in votes win.
“We don’t usually have many write-ins, but they are more common in odd year elections in which the smaller townships and school boards are on the ballot,” said Hankins. “Candidates have until August 24 to file as a write-in and must fill out a declaration of intent form and pay a filing fee.”
The second option to fill vacant government offices is to appoint a candidate through a process defined in governing bodies’ individual charters. In the Village of Butler’s case, should nobody be elected to mayor, council would likely appoint a candidate to the position. Council would also have the authority to appoint a resident to a vacant council seat should nobody aside from Haring be elected.
Polls are open on Nov. 3 from 6:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m.
Reach Jones on Twitter @Bellville_Jones or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org