Well, on July 7, I received another reply from Paula Buff on my Freedom of Information Act request. It included part of a spreadsheet on the write-in votes, and these words:
Here is the info you requested.
Candidate information can be found on the COPP website.”
Since the spreadsheet didn’t include all the information I requested, I replied:
Thanks for including the COPP website – when I include websites, I normally attempt to have them interactive, so the recipient doesn’t have to google to figure out what the abbreviation means, but that’s merely a courtesy to which I am accustomed. I spent a bit of time on the site, and found it interesting that complaints are registered there, but didn’t find the answers to my FOIA question that are not present in your most recent response. I’ll go into greater detail and emphasis to help make it easier to answer.
“Please send me the names and numbers of all write-in votes on Lincoln County ballots, by party and position, as well as the date those write-in votes were counted, and the name or names of anyone who has filed as a write-in candidate, from the recent primary election last June, at your earliest opportunity. (emphasis added)” I have added color to stress the data that is still missing from your reply.
You have provided names, numbers and positions. I can determine the date they were counted from the spreadsheet. You did not include “the name or names of anyone who has filed as a write-in candidate.”
According to MCA 13-10-211, that particular filing had to be done with you:
13-10-211. Declaration of intent for write-in candidates. (1) Except as provided in subsection (7), a person seeking to become a write-in candidate for an office in any election shall file a declaration of intent. Except for a candidate under 13-38-201(4) or a candidate covered under 7-1-205, a candidate may not file for more than one public office. The declaration of intent must be filed with the secretary of state or election administrator, depending on where a declaration of nomination for the desired office is required to be filed under 13-10-201, or with the school district clerk for a school district office. When a county election administrator is conducting the election for a school district, the school district clerk or school district office that receives the declaration of intent shall notify the county election administrator of the filing. Except as provided in 13-1-403, 13-1-503, 20-3-305(3)(b), and subsection (2) of this section, the declaration must be filed no later than 5 p.m. on the 10th day before the earliest date established under 13-13-205 on which a ballot must be available and must contain: . . .
If you had no such filings, a simple statement to that effect will answer my request adequately.
The second item was the political party for all write-in votes. Since this was a primary election, and there were both Republican and Democrat ballots, it seems that part of the counting process would include which party’s ballots were being counted. It need not be a complicated answer – the reply may be as simple as
County Administrator D.C. Orr 5R 2D
Amanda Eckhart 6R
and so on through the write-in candidates. The two I list are merely conjecture and examples.
As with the filings, if the count does not include the party on which ballot the write-ins occurred, the simple phrase “We did not record that information as we counted ballots.” will provide the data I need.
Hopefully, your next response will provide the data I need.
I have no reply on Monday Evening, when we set the Ear up – so it will be next week before we can share the data on which party ballot the write-in ballots showed up. I will admit, it seems a bit odd to have a primary election where the election administrator records write-in votes but doesn’t share the party.