The Bulletin

What happens if voters spell Del. Nick Freitas’ name wrong during his write-in campaign

By: - August 28, 2019 12:01 am

Del. Nick Freitas, R-Culpeper. (Ned Oliver/ Virginia Mercury)

The spelling rhyme goes something like: I before E except after C — and R if your name is Nick Freitas.

Freitas, R-Culpeper, is running a write-in campaign to win re-election to the House of the Delegates. The conservative up-and-comer failed to make it on the ballot as the Republican nominee because his candidate qualification form was filed too late.

Even though the 30th House District (which includes Culpeper, Madison and Orange counties) favors Republicans, Freitas’ slip-up is especially serious because all 140 seats in the General Assembly are up for re-election and Republicans hold slim majorities in both chambers.

When the Board of Elections voted to block Freitas from appearing on the ballot, a local party representative told them it would be difficult to mount a write-in campaign because of voters who “have difficulty with language, speaking and writing.”

But, according to state policy, as long as a voter makes it “reasonably clear” they’re writing in Freitas, it will probably count as a vote for him.

“Determining what may be counted as a write-in vote for a particular candidate often requires determining voter intent: Any abbreviation, misspelling, or other minor variation in the form of the name of a candidate or a political party should be disregarded in determining the validity of the ballot, if the intention of the voter can be ascertained,” a handbook for election officials states.

Local electoral boards are responsible for determining and counting write-in votes.

In short: If a voter writes Nick Frietas or another variation, it could still count as a vote for the actual candidate.

The state handbook says write-in candidates should educate voters on the correct spelling of their names.

Freitas’ campaign manager told the Culpeper Star-Exponent that the campaign might use “printed bracelets” to give people at the polls the correct spelling.


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Mechelle Hankerson
Mechelle Hankerson

Mechelle, born and raised in Virginia Beach, is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University with a degree in mass communications and a concentration in print journalism. She covered the General Assembly for the university’s Capital News Service and was among 12 student journalists in swing states selected by the Washington Post to cover the 2012 presidential election. For the past five years, she has covered local government, crime, housing, infrastructure and other issues at the Raleigh News & Observer and The Virginian-Pilot, where she most recently covered the state’s biggest city, Virginia Beach. Mechelle was with the Virginia Mercury until January 3rd, 2019.