Politics Blog

Whatcom auditor: No vote count for underdog Nyima

Even if, against the odds, Nyima the politically precocious puppy gets 1 percent of the vote as a write-in against incumbent Whatcom County Prosecutor Dave McEachran, it won't matter.

Because tomorrow's election is a primary, and McEachran has no other challengers, then Nyima the dog would need only 1 percent of the total vote to have his name appear on the November general election ballot.

This is why elections offices take the time to count write-ins for uncontested primary races. The 1-percent threshold for making the general election ballot is fairly low and has been met in a handful of occasions since the top-two primary began in Washington six years ago.

Four years ago in the primary, McEachran had 34,599 votes running unopposed. With that number of total votes cast, a write-in could have qualified for the November ballot with 346 votes.

I wouldn't be totally surprised if Nyima met that threshold, but we'll never know.

For all of Nyima's attractive qualities as a candidate, he is not a registered voter, so he does not quality for the ballot, county Auditor Debbie Adelstein said.

For that reason, Adelstein said her Elections Division will not be counting the number of votes Nyima gets after all ballots are turned in or postmarked at 8 p.m. tomorrow.

However, the total number of write-ins, without names, will be given with each vote count, with the first one posted online shortly after 8 p.m. tomorrow night, Adelstein said. 

Frank James, Nyima's owner, has said he will carry the campaign into the fall. Political blogger Riley Sweeney, in an interview on KIRO news, said he planned to vote for Nyima in the general election.

We'll see if in fact Nyima's rising star continues its ascendance, even after it sinks in among his supporters that he cannot take office.

James and others have said on social media that the purpose of the campaign is to make a statement about the limitations of a democracy in which the person in power isn't challenged. Sweeney said it well in front of the TV camera: The issues that pertain to the Prosecutor's Office never get raised, and the quality of the job McEachran is doing doesn't get judged, if he doesn't have competition.

 The real value of this stunt (one unhappy reader called it a "stupid pet trick") will be apparent four years from now, if McEachran decides to seek a 12th term. (He'll be 72 in 2018.) Maybe by then a challenger who walks on his or her hind legs will step forward.

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