It appears that a write-in candidate has officially won a spot on the Clever Board of Aldermen.
Unofficially, the Christian County Clerk’s Office shows that candidate Josiah Fuller received 75 write-in votes to represent Clever’s West Ward. Incumbent Wade Pearce, the only candidate whose name actually appeared on the ballot, received 45 votes.
Fuller captured 75 of the 100 total write-in votes cast. He was one of four candidates from Clever to file declarations of intent with the Christian County Clerk’s Office to be registered write-in candidates for the election April 2.
Fuller learned the news of his apparent victory the morning after the election.
“It’s kind of surreal in a sense, being a write-in is a difficult thing to win. I knew that from the get-go. I went out and tried to meet people face-to-face as much as possible and did a lot of promotion through one of the main Facebook groups, which is Neighbors of Clever,” Fuller said.
Fuller has not yet heard any confirmation of the election results from the county clerk, and it’s likely he won’t until at least April 5.
The results will not become official until they are reviewed and certified in the Christian County Clerk’s Office. A team of election workers must certify the results before any new officeholders will be sworn in.
“According to statute, what we do is—we have two Democrats, we have two Republicans, at least,” Brown said. “One person reads, another affirms or confirms, and the other two are doing the tally sheets.”
One by one, the volunteer election judges go through each of the write-in votes. They can do their count with the ballots, or with a printed strip of paper produced by Christian County’s voting equipment that scans and logs every write-in vote. The strip from the Clever election is about three inches wide and at least five yards long. Christian County’s verification team worked late into the night on Election Night, and will begin work again at 12:30 p.m. April 5, so that the votes can be certified by the clerk.
“The verification team will look at this and verify,” Brown said, while holding a tally sheet for the Clever election. “Normally, the verification team will pick two precincts to do a hand count and a machine count.”
The hand counts will be a bit different in Clever this time, Brown said. That’s because she feels it will be wise for the verification team to hand count all of the votes in both wards.
“There’s a lot stirring in that city,” Brown said.
Fuller’s election comes in the wake of the sudden resignation of former Police Chief Darren Whisnant and some turmoil among aldermen related to concerns about Clever’s operation budget.
“A lot of people were not happy with the incumbent and some of his decisions, more recently with the police department,” Fuller said.
As Fuller campaigned door-to-door, he reportedly had several conversations with citizens that lasted at least half an hour each. Voters asked him questions about first responders, police, concerns about utility billing, community service, and general “shoot the breeze” questions.
Fuller is not sure what his early days as an alderman will look like after election results are certified.
“I’m not really sure what to anticipate. I know the next council meeting is April 16, so that’s going to the same day that our new (police) chief is going to be sworn in,” Fuller said. “I’m not really sure what to expect.”
Write-in candidate Lucas Peery came up nine votes short of unseating an incumbent in Clever’s East Ward. Alderman Scott Hackworth received 57 votes to Peery’s 48, unofficially.
Not all write-in votes will be counted due to the presence of the four registered write-in candidates, Brown said.
“For the city of Clever, the only people I’m actually going to put down are the people who filed a declaration of intent with the office,” Brown said.
That includes one vote cast for “Mickey Mouse” in the race to be alderman of Clever’s West Ward. In at least two other instances, voters marked the write-in.
Brown has been the Christian County clerk since 2003. She can remember one other instance in which a write-in candidate campaigned successfully and held office. Stuart Baker won a race for mayor of Highlandville in 2007 with 78 write-in votes to incumbent Paul Weeks’ 72 votes.