Council write-in votes stretch limits, add humor to process

Oshkosh residents cast 2,111 write-in votes in Tuesday’s election thanks to an open council seat and the nine registered write-in candidates vying for it.

But the sheer volume of write-in votes to catalog wasn’t even half the battle poll workers and city election officials faced as they certified the results of Tuesday’s election. The city’s Board of Canvass met Wednesday to re-check tallies for the nine registered write-ins as well as listing every person, animal and thing that got a write-in vote.

There are multiple layers of humor to be had in examining who (and what) earned peoples’ votes.

First, there are the random write-ins. They’re good for more than a few laughs and head scratches. A sampling, taken verbatim from ballots include: The Letter P, Aflac Duck, None, Of, Above, Elvis Presley, A. Hitler, M. Mouse, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Shaquille O’Neal, Chuckie, Joan Doe, Jane Doe, Harry Reid, Eddie Tudorpole and Mr. Ed.

Then there are the local, non-registered write-ins. They’re not quite humorous, but still can produce a large number of head scratches and quizzically-raised eyebrows. Again, verbatim from the ballots: Jessica King, (state Rep.) Gordon Hintz, Paul Esslinger, (Oshkosh Area Humane Society Director) Joni Geiger, (Otter Street Fishing Club President) Scott Engel, John Daggett (deceased), Walter Pagel (deceased), Tony Palmeri, Kurt Stein and Harold Buccholz.

There also is a subset of the local, non-registered write-ins worthy of note, as well. Every present Oshkosh Common Councilor, even those on the ballot for re-election, received at least one write in vote … Tom Pech Jr., Deb Allison-Aasby, Steve Cummings, Steve Herman and Bob Poeschl. Even recently-resigned Councilor Jef Hall got a write-in vote. And let’s not forget Oshkosh School Board candidates Steve Dedow and Steve Eliasen, either.

The final category is the one that gave poll workers the most fits and starts along with more than a few chuckles. You see, workers have to determine “voter intent” and they do so very liberally. A right first name with a wrong last name counts for the candidate. Abbreviations usually count. Improperly spelled names count. Omitted initials are overlooked.

Let’s just say there are a lot of creative spellers out there who can rest assured the city’s dedicated poll workers did their best to sniff out their intent. Here’s more than a few examples (unless noted, these votes were all counted for the appropriate candidate):

Teresa Thiel: Teresa Think, Telesa Thiel.

Don Binder: Dan Binder, B. Binder.

Brian Poeschl: Brian Posacl, Brian Petchel, Lawrence Poeschl (not counted as first name was spelled out).

Christina Crook: Christian Crook, Kristin Crook, Cassie Cook (not counted), Christina Cook, Critina Crook.

Caroline Panske: Paskie, Pansk, Chris P. (not counted).

Tom Willadsen: Tom Wilktoon, Tom (no last name), Tom Willardson, Tom Wilkinson, Pastor Willadsen.

Sean Fitzgerald: Sean Fitz, Sean Fitz-something, Sean Fitzpatrick, D. Fitzgerald, Sean Fitzyearold.

Kyle Clark: Ryan Clark (not counted).


About Jeff Bollier

Jeff Bollier is an award-winning public affairs reporter for the Oshkosh Northwestern who covers everything from city hall to business. As Streetwise, Jeff delivers updates on the comings and goings of Oshkosh's retail and business world. Jeff is an avid Instagram and Twitter user and a member of the Northwestern Bacon Team.
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