Coon Rapids makes charter change for write-in candidates

No more will “Mickey Mouse,” “Donald Duck” and other fictional names appear as write-in votes in Coon Rapids city elections.

The Coon Rapids City Council Feb. 18, on the recommendation of its Charter Commission, unanimously adopted an ordinance changing the city charter to put in place registration of write-in candidates for city elective offices. The action followed a public hearing at which no one spoke.

According to City Clerk Cathy Sorensen, the charter amendment would require a candidate who wants their write-in votes to be counted in the general election to file a written request with the city clerk’s office no later than seven days before the general election, Sorensen wrote in a report to the council.

No fee will be charged for people to register as write-in candidates, she told the council.

“All other write-in votes cast for city office candidates who have not filed a written request would be treated collectively as votes for a single candidate labeled ‘all other write-ins’,” Sorensen wrote.

As a charter city, Coon Rapids has the ability to place this language in the charter and the commission was unanimous in its recommended approval of the staff request, she said.

“This amendment will not only save time and frustration for election judges in compiling write-ins, it will also decrease election costs by not incurring additional hours for election judges to tally the numerous write-in names that can occur on ballots, many of whom can be frivolous and not true candidate write-ins,” Sorensen wrote.

Some of those write-in names can be entertaining, though, said Mayor Tim Howe.

Councilmember Bruce Sanders called the charter amendment “long overdue.”

“Having people register as write-in candidates legitimizes their candidacy,” Sanders said.

The seven-day write-in candidate registration requirement is used for federal, state and county elections and is, in fact, part of state law, according to Sorensen.

The cities of Blaine and Fridley have also instituted the practice and it has “proven to be beneficial,” Sorensen wrote.

The charter amendment becomes effective 90 days after adoption and publication.

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