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Three of the six Buffalo School Board races involve write-in candidates – and it is possible the winner of one or more those races, may not be known until the official count is made May 15.

But at the very least, the total number of intended ballots cast in each district will be known tonight.

In the East District race, incumbent Rosalyn L. Taylor is counting on people to write-in her name to defeat Theresa Harris-Tigg.

In the West District, incumbent Ralph Hernandez is hoping for the same result against James Sampson.

While in the Ferry District, Kinzer Pointer is hoping a last-minute write-in effort will upend incumbent Sharon Belton-Cottman’s effort to win her first election after being appointed to the board in 2011.

Results compiled tonight by the Board of Elections will indicate the total number of intended write-ins votes for each district, said Dennis E. Ward, one of two Erie County election commissioners.

Ward explained the write-in process this way:

A voter who wants to vote for someone not listed on the ballot is supposed to color in a bubble on the ballot form to indicate he or she wants to a write-in a candidate’s name.

The voter also then writes in the person he or she is voting for.

“If the voter doesn’t color the bubble, the machine looks at that and says the voter didn’t vote for anyone,” Ward said.

“We don’t disqualify you because you didn’t color n the bubble, we go by voter intent. So what happens is this: The machine will read it as an undervote, and we will ultimately count it – but not until the offical canvass by the Board of Elections on May 15.”

The combined write-in and undervote presents the maximum number of possible votes that will show if there is a possible path for that candidate to win.

“We can tell you if a candidate is excluded, and there is no way they can win,” Ward said.

It’s still an uphill battle for a write-in candidate to win.

Ward said that in his nine years as a commissioner, and about 40 years of involvement with the electoral process, he could only recall one successful write-in candidate – Ralph Hernandez when he mounted a successful effort in the West District in 2004.

But no one was on the ballot that year, he said, which isn’t the case today.

msommer@buffnews.com