A Closer Look at Cary Election Write-in Votes

Cary, NC – After the 2019 municipal elections in Cary, we got a lot of questions about the write-in votes. So we took a closer look to see what people said in their write-in submissions.

What Are Write-in Votes?

Put simply, a write-in vote is a vote for someone who does not appear on the ballot for a particular office. Historically, write-in candidates have won offices across the country, most notably Strom Thurmond winning the South Carolina Senate seat in 1954 and Lisa Murkowski winning the Alaska Senate seat in 2010 after losing her party’s primary.

In the recent Cary election, there were four races. The competitive races saw far fewer write-in votes than the races where no other candidates filed to run. This generally holds true, as in the 2017 Cary election, all three races were competitive and there far fewer write-in votes.

All information on past election results in Wake County is available online, including tallies of all write-in votes.

early voting in cary

Who Got Written In?

Across the board, most of the write-in votes were for people running in this particular election, though for different offices. For example, in the Cary mayoral election, between incumbent Harold Weinbrecht and candidate Dero-Asha Davis-Weeks, write-in votes included:

  • Four votes for Cary Council Member Don Frantz
  • 10 votes for Cary Council Member Ken George
  • Two votes for Cary Mayor Pro Tem Lori Bush
  • Seven votes for newly elected Cary Council Member Ya Liu

Whether these votes were meant to get these candidates into the mayoral office or it was voters unclear of who was running for a particular office is unknown.

Other names that got higher numbers of write-in votes for the mayoral race were town planner Scott Ramage with five votes, legal counsel for Lenovo Robert Renke and 2014 Republican Senate candidate Greg Brannon with four votes. Additionally, 15 people marked “write-in” and did not write in any name and six people marked “write-in” while also voting for one of the candidates in the race, also known as an overvote. Additionally, three people wrote in “anyone else.”

Like in the Cary mayor’s race, a plurality of the votes in the uncontested races, for the At-Large seat held by Bush and the District B seat held by Frantz, were for other candidates in the 2019 election.

For example, in the At-Large race, there were:

  • 13 votes for Cary Council District D candidate Beth Friedrich
  • Two votes for Dero-Asha Davis-Weeks
  • 53 votes for Ken George
  • 57 votes for Ya Liu

Additionally, there were 23 write-in votes left blank, four overvotes, five votes for Epic Games art director Pete Ellis and 12 people wrote in “anyone else.”

In the District B race, there were:

  • Six votes for Beth Friedrich
  • Four votes for Ken George
  • 10 votes for Ya Liu

Additionally, there were three write-in votes left blank, one overvote and six people wrote in “anyone else.”

In all three of these elections, there was an assortment of “joke” write-ins – Mickey Mouse, Elmo, Justin Williams, late character actor Miguel Ferrer – but there were also people who used their write-in vote to voice some concern about development in Cary. Write-in votes included people writing in “Anyone Who Will Stop Development And Protect Our Trees,” “No Harrison Hotel,” “Responsible Growth.”

The competitive race for Council District D had the most number of candidates and the fewest number of write-in votes. Only four people marked for a write-in vote, with one leaving it blank, one overvote, one vote for Dero-Asha Davis-Weeks and one vote for Matthew Timbin, who we’ve not been able to identify as anyone involved in local politics or town government.

You can also go online and look at all election data across the state, including all write-in votes, which precincts voted for which candidates, data on voter turnout and much more. If statistics about elections interests you, it is a useful and possibly even fun tool.


Story by Michael Papich. Photos by Vox Efx, Lindsey Chester and Keith Ivey.