Auditor write-in campaign underway

Palmer backers challenge Crider

With the primary election closing in, some Oak Harbor residents have apparently started a last-minute effort to get an Oak Harbor councilman on the ballot as a write-in candidate for Island County auditor.

Ballots for the primary election must be postmarked on or before Aug. 19 to be counted.

Councilman James “Jim” Palmer said he found out this week that a group of people are organizing a write-in campaign on his behalf against Sheilah Crider, who was appointed auditor and is running unopposed.

At first, Palmer said he didn’t take it seriously until more and more people contacted him.

“People are concerned with the auditor’s office,” he said, pointing to errors on ballots and voter’s pamphlets that led to reprintings.

Palmer contacted city administrators to let them know he wasn’t actively campaigning. He has the ability to file as a write-in candidate, which has a distinct advantage, but he chose not to.

But still, it’s no secret that he’s interested in the job. He said he was urged to apply for the position after former Auditor Suzanne Sinclair quit last year, but he had just won his first term as a councilman.

“If there’s a groundswell of support for me, it would be hard to say no,” he said.

The Secretary of State’s Office reports that the number of write-in votes would only have to amount to 1 percent of the total votes for that office for Palmer’s name to appear on the November general election ballot.

It may seem like a real possibility that Palmer could make it through the primary as a write-in candidate, but his name is a distinct disadvantage. To be counted, voters would have to correctly spell his name as it appears on his voter registration card, which is “James Palmer.” He is known around town as “Jim.”

If he had filed as a write-in candidate, write-in votes that aren’t spelled exactly perfect — but the intent was obvious — would be counted.

Crider could not be immediately reached for comment.

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