Somerset County election results show that while some write-in votes were reserved for real people, others were cast for Disney characters.
In Somerset County Berlin resident Paul Ritchey ran a write-in campaign in the 9th Congressional District against U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster. Ritchey left the Republican Party and registered independent to run his campaign. He received 215 votes under different variations of his name.
"I expected him to do that well," Republican Party Chairman James T. Yoder said. "He's well-respected in his community and he's a good patriotic fella. I hope to welcome him back to the Republican Party."
Shelley Glessner, chairwoman of the Somerset County Democratic Party, said she found it interesting that Ritchey was able to gain 215 votes.
"It's pretty good for an unknown and a write-in (candidate)," she said.
Ritchey did not return telephone calls seeking comment Thursday.
Travis Schooley of Franklin County was disqualified from the Republican primary ballot in the 9th District because a number of signatures on his nominating petition were ruled invalid. Schooley did, however, receive two write-in votes.
Critz's race against Keith Rothfus, an Allegheny County Republican, was considered one of the most watched and most expensive races in the country. But the close race was not immune from voters seeking other options.
Forty-eight different names were cast in the race in Somerset County, including "a real dem," neither, Bill Shuster, Paul Ritchey, Sherry Stalley, Joyce Murtha, widow of former U.S. Rep. John Murtha, and Jesus.
"It's a shame that people can't look into these things more in depth and really pick a candidate they can back instead of throwing their vote away," Yoder said.
Glessner said she was disappointed that people decided to write in names instead of voting in the race.
"It disappoints me a lot knowing the good work Congressman Critz has done in Somerset County and would have continued to do not only for Somerset County but the whole congressional district," she said.
But the throw-away votes didn't end with the 12th Congressional District race.
Metzgar did not have an opponent in the election, but more than 100 names were written in against him. Ritchey received six votes. Other write-in votes included "anyoneelse," "notmetzgar," Joe Paterno, truth, Big Bird, Ron Aldom, executive director of the Somerset County Chamber of Commerce, and Twilight Sparkle.
Fellow state Rep. Frank Burns, D-East Taylor Township, also had a few write-in votes cast against him. In the 72nd House race there were 60 names written in, including former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward, Judge David Klementik, Republican candidate, Donald Duck, Snoopy and Clint Eastwood. Wile E. Coyote also received a nod; however, the Road Runner was nowhere to be found.
In the state Senate race between Sen. John Wozniak and Tim Houser, "please give me a real," Peter Griffith, "any lib" and Bugs Bunny all received a vote.
Write-ins were not limited to local races. Ritchey, Metzgar, Somerset County elections director Tina Pritts, "Robotic Nixon" and Achmed, which may refer to a dead terrorist puppet in a comedy act, all received nods in the race between U.S. Sen. Bob Casey and Tom Smith.
But Achmed was not alone. Jeff Dunham, the comedian who uses him in his ventriloquist act, received a nod for president along with Nemo, political satirist Stephen Colbert, Jesus and rocker Ted Nugent. There were several former presidential hopefuls who also received votes, including Hillary Clinton, who earned 13 votes, Ralph Nadar, John McCain, Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin and Rick Santorum. Ron Paul received the most presidential write-in votes with 53.
"The Ron Paul votes don't surprise me," Yoder said. "I still ran into a lot of Ron Paul supporters up to a couple of days before the election. I talked to a lot of different people who were still on the Ron Paul bandwagon."
Glessner was not surprised by Paul's support. She also was not surprised that Clinton received some votes in Somerset County.
"I think she's going to come out and make a run for president in four years," she said.
But between all of the cartoon characters, actors and political statements the election results remain the same.