This year’s local elections were fairly uneventful, with incumbents almost universally maintaining their positions in Ithaca and throughout Tompkins County, helped by plenty of uncontested races. But that doesn’t mean that local voters didn’t have a bit of fun when they went to the polls, so the Ithaca Times obtained the complete list of write-in votes in every local race submitted by voters at the booths this year. For a full list of all write-in votes divided by race, check the bottom of this page (the formatting is a bit messy, but you should be able to find what you like).
Arguably the most prominent office up for election was for Mayor of the City of Ithaca, which was comfortably won by incumbent Svante Myrick over grassroots challenger Adam Levine. In this race, 32 write-in votes were cast, ranging from comical to political figures who weren’t in the race: the leading write-in vote getter was Pam Mackesey, a former mayoral candidate and Tompkins County legislator, who received three votes; she was followed by a three way tie between current Common Council member Cynthia Brock, Black Lives Matter - Ithaca leader and Cornell professor Russell Rickford and someone named Donald J. Trump, Jr., who all scored two votes. Mickey Mouse, Ariana Grande and “Term Limits” also each picked up single votes.
As for other citywide races, local firebrand Joe Scaglione garnered one vote in the city’s Second Ward, though the seat was soundly kept by Alderperson Ducson Nguyen. Also receiving votes were “Yr Mom,” “Anyone Else,” the beloved clay cartoon Gumby and “All the Cats,” a rather nightmarish thought.
The unsuccessful trio of official write-in candidates, Sunshine Movement members Cheyenne Carter, Ellie Pfeffer and Thea Kozakis, faired relatively well considering the late starts to their campaigns and the difficulty that inherently accompanies write-in campaigns. Carter secured 60 votes, Pfeffer snagged 56 and Kozakis received 12. Joe Osmeloski also mounted an official write-in campaign for Dryden Town Board, for which he received 34 votes.
Some races received barely any write-in votes, like the hotly contested Lansing Town Supervisor race between victorious incumbent Ed LaVigne and Democratic challenger Michael Koplinka-Loehr, which saw just three write-in votes among over 3,000 total votes cast. Other races, likely a result of less information available and lower profile offices, saw tons of write-ins. The New York State Supreme Court judge race was the best example of this, as Tompkins County voters logged 220 write-ins, with highlights including professional wrestler John Cena, clown Bozo, musician Tom Waits, our very own columnist Marjorie Olds, cartoon attorney Harvey Birdman, “Dirt,” guitarist Frank Zappa, slave rebellion leader Nat Turner and two votes for “Ham Sandwich.”
Certain well-known characters emerged as favorites, though it’s possible they were written in by the same person for different offices. Donald Duck, Goofy, Gumby, Mickey Mouse and Yoda were all mentioned several times. Well-known politicians did as well, including various members of the Trump family, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
Abraham Lincoln and Karl Marx both secured votes in the Groton Town Council races. Dryden voters, in the uncontested supervisor race, gave quite a few votes to developer and former candidate Bruno Schickel, along with one person who ostensibly voted for their dog (unless we are missing a reference with “Bella the Poodle”).
The title of race with the most creativity per vote likely goes to the Town of Ithaca Supervisor race, won by Rod Howe. The full list of write-in votes included: former First Lady Michelle Obama, actor Gary Busey, two votes for former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, one each for Donald Duck and Michigan congressman Justin Amash, as well as actual local people David Burbank and Laura Johnson-Kelly. Lansing Town Clerk also drew some creative answers, as Scooby Doo and the Dalai Lama both received a vote.
Divine influence guided at least two voters, who marked down “God” as their choice for Lansing Town Justice, and “Jesus” for Ulysses Highway Superintendent, both of which would seemingly be demotions, all due respect.