Most people cast their ballots for one of the major party candidates for president, but one of the features of American democracy is that people can at least write in a vote for whomever they choose.
In a moment of frustration, many have been known to declare they might as well vote for Mickey Mouse.
Disney's cartoon rodent got seven such votes on Nov. 8, according to a Journal Star review of write-in votes cast in Peoria County.
There were 11 registered write-in candidates in Peoria County — those for whom writing in the name would actually count in the voting tally because the candidate formally registered by filing a form. The top vote-getter among them was Evan McMullin, who rolled up some 476 votes. That's the lion's share of the 575 such write-ins that entered the official record.
But 976 other people in the county decided to register other preferences, even though it was only an exercise in personal frustration rather than a guarantee the vote would count.
Tazewell County does not keep a record of invalid votes.
For purposes of these tallies — they don't count toward anything legal after all, so precision isn't essential — the Journal Star included all Peoria County votes clearly intended for a candidate. That means that whomever wrote in "Barry Sanders" or "Berney Sanders" or "BernieeSanders" (among other spellings) was counted along with those who opted for the more traditional "Bernie Sanders" for a total of 266. Ditto for the 87 votes for John Kasich and 33 for Ted Cruz.
There were various permutations of "none of the above" — including the trenchant "none of these clowns" — for a total of 14 ballots.
And heck with the 22nd Amendment: At least two voters didn't want to see him go and cast a vote for an unconstitutional third term for Barack Obama. Nine others — ignoring his Rose Garden news conference passing on the race — wanted Joe Biden to step into the top job. Perhaps it was the collection of memes circulating online.
Some past presidential candidates also got some after-the-fact respect. John McCain received 16 votes; Mitt Romney took 19.
A variety of other national figures caught a bit of affection. Actor Bill Murray got two votes. Former Secretary of State and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Colin Powell notched three. In recognition of the recent Chicago Cubs World Series victory, team executive Theo Epstein pulled seven votes and skipper Joe Maddon got five.
Locally, some notables got a little support. U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood got four votes, while his father Ray LaHood got two. State Sen. Chuck Weaver, Mayor Jim Ardis, City Council candidate Zach Oyler and City Hall functionary Leslie McKnight each received one vote apiece. Of course, so did the inimitable Willie York.
On the faith front, Jesus Christ cracked double digits with 11 votes. God, meanwhile, didn't do as well, as He received only three write-ins. A combination of God, Jesus and the Holy Ghost received a vote.
A slightly less reverent "Zombie Jesus" also received a vote, and the Flying Spaghetti Monster — deity of the new-to-this-millennium "religion" of pastafarianism — got the same consideration. (That is, believe it or not, recognized as a faith in both the Netherlands and New Zealand.)
Some other fictional characters managed to make inroads.
Donald Duck scored a vote; so did Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry headmaster Albus Dumbledore — though being a deceased fictional character perhaps makes him doubly unable to serve. Likewise, SpongeBob SquarePants would have residency issues if he persists in living in a pineapple under the sea.
Though many people expressed support for its candidacy — and the impact it would have on both sides of the aisle — Sweet Meteor of Death also only garnered one vote. Perhaps next time.
Chris Kaergard covers politics and government. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 686-3355. Follow him at Twitter.com/ChrisKaergard.