Write ins

VIII – Individuals seeking to be write-in candidates not required to register or file with the state.

Allowing write in votes gives voters more choice in the candidates they can vote for. Eight states currently have no restrictions or requirements on write in votes. If a person wants to run for any office by write in, usually after the filing deadlines, they may do so. A write in campaign would require a candidate to get the word out about their candidacy and to organize much as any other candidate. Thirty three states now allow write in votes for candidates who have officially registered with the state by a specific deadline and require paperwork to be filed, a fee paid, signatures to be gathered, or some combination of those three requirements. Much the same as regular candidates, deadlines being different. Nine states do not allow or count any kind of write in votes.

The popularity of write in votes is on the rise since the 1980’s when they made up an even smaller percent of the vote. Oregon has had the notable rise in write in voting with historically high numbers of write ins during the 2016 presidential election. While, unfortunately, many people treat this allowance as a joke and write in cartoon characters (with Mickey Mouse being the perennial favorite) or other fictional characters, unlimited write in votes that do not require a candidate to register or file a notice of intent to run allow voters to vote their consciences and allow potential to run without being forced to jump through hoops or file paperwork with the state. The arguments against unregistered write ins primarily focuses on votes for fictional characters or for candidates who cannot legally hold the office. Laws can easily be written to preclude the granting of an office to anyone who does not fulfill the states requirements for office holders which automatically includes fictional characters as well.

Counting write in votes is more time consuming because of the limitations of vote counting technologies, but there are ways to work around this. The State of Oregon, for instance, did not specifically count the number of write ins received by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders because by the shear number of write in votes for president in comparison to the number of vote cast for the state popular vote winner Hillary Clinton. It was obvious that Senator Sanders could not have won the states electoral votes by write in even without counting every write in vote which was cast in the presidential race. Write in candidates are much more likely to win in state and local races, but they do have an important impact on the political system in some cases. Strom Thurmond, who is the third longest serving US Senator in the history of the US Congress, originally won his Senate seat as a write in candidate. He was the first member of Congress to ever be elected as a write in candidate, but he was not the last. Write in candidates have had a notable impact on US politics and we should allow more voting freedom by not restricting the choices of voters and allowing them to cast their votes for any individual they feel would excel in the office in question and still have their votes counted.

Category: National and State