Hoping to give Lubbock voters another choice for mayor, Philip Howard picked up an application for the city office recently.
However, he didn’t intend to run for office.
Rather, he said, he wanted to put the phrase “none of the above” as a candidate on the ballot.
“If someone is running unopposed, then they automatically win,” Howard said. “Usually the only protest vote is to not vote at all or for a third party.”
Howard ran into a roadblock in the form of the city charter, though, when he was told all candidates filing for city office must meet the charter’s requirements.
Since “none of the above” is not a person, Howard could not proceed.
The city has a process of checking names given on an application, said City Secretary Becky Garza.
The city will check an applicant’s given name with its date of birth with the voter registration number to make sure there are no phony names, Garza said.
However, if someone’s legal name was something out of the ordinary, like None of the Above, Garza said she would put it on the ballot — not before checking with city attorneys and the Texas Secretary of State’s Office, though.
“If he’s registered to vote that way, and that is his legal name, then we would put that on the ballot,” she said. “I don’t think we would disqualify someone because of that.”
Howard said he will probably not change his name to None of the Above, and he still plans to vote for the office.
There is a spot on the application for the exact name appearing on the ballot. This can include common nicknames, Garza said.
There is language on the application affirming any nickname “does not constitute a slogan nor does it indicate a political, economic, social, or religious view or affirmation.”
Additionally, the application states a candidate must have been commonly known by the nickname for at least three years prior to the election.
Garza said she would review with attorneys and the Secretary of State’s Office if there was a nickname that could invoke voter bias or confusion.
In 2006, Texas gubernatorial candidate Carole Keeton Strayhorn tried to have her nickname listed as “Grandma” on the official ballot, but Secretary of State Roger Williams denied the request, stating the nickname was part of a slogan.
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