BEND, OR -- In about two months, Deschutes County voters will cast ballots for a number of public boards. But, it'll be more difficult, this time around, for several water and sewer districts. With the candidate filing deadline now past, Deschutes County Clerk Nancy Blankenship says 10 out of the 67 open positions on the May ballot don't have a candidate. While it's not an ideal situation for those races, Blankenship says, there is protocol to follow, "People can run for that position as a write-in candidate, and when that occurs, then we have to go back and document every write-in that occurred for each of those positions. So, it's kind of a manual process." The person with the most write-in votes then must be certified as eligible to serve, based on their residency and other factors. And, Blankenship says they'll then be asked if they're willing to take on the job, "If they do not want the position - they could refuse it - and then that position would be vacant and the District would have to appoint."
Just because no one has applied to be a candidate for a position, Blankenship tells KBND News, doesn't mean it's okay to turn the process into a joke, "If it's a fictitious name, then it would not be counted as a legitimate write-in. Sometimes, you'll get a whole ballot where they don't vote anything except fictitious, in poor taste language and other things, on their ballots. [Voting] has always been something that's been a right, and a privilege, and an opportunity to be a U.S. citizen and participate in the process; and it's quite surprising."
She also asks voters to use only black or blue ballpoint pens. Felt pens bleed through paper and make it difficult for machines to process those ballots. For the May election, ballots will be mailed to voters on May first; they're due back to county elections offices by 8 p.m. on May 21.