Can You Write In A Candidate To Vote For On A U.S. Presidential Election Ballot?

Each U.S. state has its own rules regarding write-in ballots for President, with some not counting them at all.

What is a Write-In Candidate?

A write-in candidate is a candidate in an election, whether it be for the Presidency of the United States, a seat in Congress, or for the local sheriff office, that is someone whose name does not appear on the voting ballot, but can be voted for by voters by having their name written in. A lot of write-in candidates run do to not being eligible to run under their original party or in cases where term limits keep them from being officially nominated to be on the ballot, but write-in candidacies are permitted as a way for them to run again. Their have also been times where a draft campaign is ran to support a candidate who is not officially running for office and by using the write-in vote as a way pressure or encourage them to officially run for office by organizing and showing a lot of support for them. Other times write-in candidates have been used as a joke by people to get celebrities, animals, crude references or fictional characters on the ballot, although the Federal Election Commission (FEC) announced plans to curb the amount of fake candidates filling paperwork to run for president back in August of this year. Other times the write-in system has been used for far flung candidates to get some temporary fame, especially in the age of the 24/7 media and internet, such as current Libertarian Party member Vernon Supreme or Jimmy McMillan of the "Rent is Too D### High" Party.

States Allowing Write-in Votes for Presidential Candidates

Out of the fifty states in America, there are 41 that allow write-in votes for the Presidential Election, and nine that do not allow write-in votes in the 2016 Presidential Election. The nine states that do allow this are Arkansas, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Carolina and South Dakota. These put a write-in candidate at a disadvantage as they could only possibility gain 494 of the total 538 electoral votes that are in play in the presidential election. Out of the 41 states that allow write-in votes there are seven states that do not require a candidate to complete any type of registration process to be be a eligible to count as a write-in vote. These states are Iowa, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont. For the remaining 34 states a write-in candidate for president must submit a form of affidavit of intent to be a write-in candidate and in some states they must also pay a filling fee at least a month before the election to be a eligible write-in candidate. States also have other addition procedures where write-in candidates must circulate around a petition that they are running for president and get the required number of signatures according to that state's petition signature requirements. Once that is met, they then must get it submitted and verified by the state board of elections. If a write-in candidate does not follow the proper procedures for filling in a state, then any write-in votes for them will not be counted.

Write-Ins on Paper Ballots Versus in Electronic Voting Systems

Depending on the state or county within a state that a person resides in, their may either be voting that is carried out on paper ballots or electronically. Since electronic voting was introduced in the 1960s, there has been a great deal of debate regarding which method is easier to use and more secure to prevent mistakes or errors, which has only increased in the last two decades or so. In paper ballots when voting for a write-in candidate, a vote would write out there name in the write-in candidate space and then either fill in a bubble next to that or draw a line. Nowadays, most place do have scanning systems to put paper ballot into to be counted, instead of it being done by hand. On electronic voting system a person would tap the write in button on the touch screen and one would type in the name of their write in candidate and then press a confirmation to record their vote.

Notable Write-In Campaigns in the History of U.S. Elections

Since this article deals with the process of write-in candidates in terms of American Presidential Elections, it would only make sense to discuss some the most successful write-in candidates the country has had in either the Primaries or the General Election for the U.S. Presidency. In the 1952 primaries for president on the Republican side Dwight Eisenhower won the Massachusetts primary due to write-in vote, while Robert Taft would win Nebraska the same way and on the Democratic side Estes Kefauver won the Pennsylvania primary because of write-ins. In 1960, John F. Kennedy won the Democratic primaries in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts with the help of write-in votes, helping to propel him to become the Democratic presidential candidate. In the 1964 campaign a write-in campaign was organized by a group of political amateurs to support Henry Cabot Lodge Jr., the former senator, vice presidential nominee and then the current ambassador to South Vietnam. Lodge defeated the declared candidates and won the New Hampshire primary as a write in candidate and would go on to also win New Jersey and Massachusetts by write-in despite never becoming a open candidate and only briefly considering officially running for the nomination

Write-In Voting in Other Parts of the World

The process of write-in voting is also a system that is mostly confined to taking place in the United States, and is seen by the muco of the rest of the international community as a largely American tradition and practice. In 1967 in the small town of Picoazá in Ecuador, which had a population of around 4,000 people, a company ran a series of campaign-themed ads for the foot powder Pulvapies. The foot powder won the election as a write-in by receiving the most votes, although it did not become mayor as the issue was solved by the national electoral tribunal. A more recent and serious case of write-in voting outside America took place in Sweden during the 2006 municipal elections. Voters cast enough ballots for the Sweden Democrats or other minor parties that they earned a seat on a municipal council, even if they did not have any eligible candidates actually running. This lead to people whose names were write-ins to be elected to the municipal seats, although most of them resigned the seats as they were just everyday people not involved in politics or a member of the party.

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