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Write-in votes don't need mark in oval

In a recent editorial, C.W. Smith was endorsed as a write-in candidate. In order for a write-in to be counted, doesn't the circle or square next to the person's name have to be marked, the same as with a printed name or a ballot measure? Does a write-in name alone indicate a vote?

— Don, via email

Although the ballot sheet instructs voters to fill the oval next to the write-in line, voters can rest easy knowing their vote isn't lost if there's a name written without a mark in the oval next to it, says Jackson County Clerk Chris Walker.

On election night, ballots are inspected by hand, and in some cases marks are enhanced to make sure machines read the ballot correctly. Oregon law regulates the changes elections staff can make to a ballot, but among the allowed changes is filling in the write-in bubble.

The machine counts to see whether all write-ins combined have more votes than a named candidate. If so, write-in ballots are then counted by hand. 

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.