Thousands of New Yorkers who voted in last month’s New York City mayoral election either didn’t like their choices or wanted to make a statement of their own — so they exercised their vote with a write-in candidate.
Their write-in choices were revealed this week when the New York City Board of Elections released its official results of the 2021 general election. No write-in vote changed the outcome of the election, of course; Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams was elected mayor in a landslide. But the write-in votes — which included a gamut of other politicians, celebrities, athletes, public figures and even the dearly departed — gave a glimpse into what some voters were thinking when they headed to the polls on Election Day, Nov. 2, or during the early voting period.
Among the celebrities who got at least one write-in vote were reality show personality Kim Kardashian; actor/producer/director Lin Manuel-Miranda; film director Spike Lee; talk show hosts Stephen Colbert, Desus Nice and Trevor Noah; actors Alec Baldwin, Levar Burton, Steve Buscemi (misspelled on the ballot as Busciami), Timothee Chalamet, Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson, Patti Lupone, Jeff Goldblum, Susan Sarandon, John Stamos; singers Mariah Carey, Ariana Grande, Mick Jagger and Bette Midler; comedians Lewis Black, Janeane Garofalo, Jerry Seinfeld, Jon Stewart; almost-centenarian actress Betty White of The Golden Girls fame; public figure Santa Claus; and actor/singer Stefani Germanotta, the New York native whom you know better as Lady Gaga.
Not surprisingly, one of the candidates Adams defeated in the June Democratic primary for mayor got the most write-in votes. More than 1,426 people penned in former Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia’s name for mayor; the Board of Elections tally notes that more than a dozen others voted for Garcia, but with variations (some erroneous) of her name, such as Katherine Garcia, Catherine Garcia (which got 20 votes) or Kathryn Garica (sic).
The second runner-up in the Democratic primary, civil rights attorney Maya Wiley, received 1,199 votes. Another 181 people wrote in her name with her middle initial (D.) included.
The Board of Elections official tally for mayor includes hundreds of other write-in choices cast by the voters, almost all of which received just a single vote. Other politicians from across the city, state and country were among those who gained more than one write-in vote in the contest.
Bronx/Queens Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, for instance, got 29 write-in votes. Disgraced former Governor Andrew Cuomo had 14.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured 28 votes from New Yorkers who apparently wanted the Brooklyn native to come home and lead the city. Former Secretary of State and New York Senator Hillary Clinton also received 26 write-in votes. Former Minnesota Senator and Saturday Night Live actor/writer Al Franken got four votes.
Former presidents also made the tally: Barack Obama got five votes, while Bill Clinton had just one vote. Perhaps reflective of the surge in Republican voters in the 2021 election, former President (and former New Yorker) Donald Trump got 29 votes.
Meanwhile, former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who left office back in 2013, got 116 votes from write-in supporters who wanted him back for a fourth term in office. And after a rough couple of years, the term-limited current mayor, Bill de Blasio, still received support from 17 people, two of which voted for him using his birth name, Warren Wilhelm.
Athletes score high
The sports world was also represented well among write-in voters. Yankees slugger Aaron Judge got nine votes, while his teammate, outfielder Aaron Hicks, had the support of one voting fan. Former Yankees and Mets outfielder Darryl Strawberry garnered the support of two write-in voters.
Knicks star Julius Randle got the support of six fans, while his team’s head coach, Tom Thibodeau, earned three write-in votes after one of the more successful Knicks seasons in recent years.
Other current or former athletes receiving write-in votes included former Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter; Mets pitching ace Jacob deGrom; free agent Mets pitcher Marcus Stroman; slugging Mets first baseman Pete Alonso; Brooklyn Nets stars James Harden and Kyrie Irving; former Yankees manager Joe Torre; Knicks legends Patrick Ewing and Walt “Clyde” Frazier; and basketball Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
The dearly departed
Some write-in voters turned to history and cast their write-in votes for figures who are no longer with us.
They included former Presidents Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Theodore Roosevelt; four-star general and Secretary of State Colin Powell; Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater; and Georgia Congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis. Former Mayor David Dinkins, who died last year, also received four write-in votes, while his predecessor, the late Ed Koch, garnered six votes.
Fiorello LaGuardia, who was mayor during the Great Depression and died more than 75 years ago, still had the support of five write-in voters in 2021.
Other deceased write-in vote-getters included comedians George Carlin and Andy Kaufman; musical icons Syd Barrett, David Bowie, Miles Davis, Jim Morrison, Lou Reed, Joey Ramone and Frank Sinatra; actors Sean Connery and Flip Wilson; and author (and one-time mayoral candidate) Norman Mailer.
Stranger than fiction
In most elections, there are always a few frustrated voters who opt to have fun with their democracy and write-in the names of fictional characters. Perhaps the most surprising of entries was Captain Jean-Luc Picard of Star Trek: The Next Generation; the character on the sci-fi cult hit, portrayed by Patrick Stewart, got two votes.
They included Springfield’s Bart Simpson and his father, Homer; Bruce Wayne of Gotham City (aka Batman); Star Wars mercenary Boba Fett and evil overlord Kylo Ren; Looney Tunes’ Daffy Duck; Disney’s Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse; Nickelodeon’s Jimmy Neutron; Peanuts’ Lucy Van Pelt; McDonald’s mascot Ronald McDonald; and Leslie Knope of Parks and Recreation.
Casting a write-in vote is better than casting no vote at all. If you’re not registered to vote, you can do so by visiting vote.nyc.