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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spin Control

Unhappy with presidential choices? Here are some more

In America, not everybody can grow up to be president. But almost anybody can run for president.

Washington voters will have seven pairs of candidates for president and vice president on the Nov. 8 ballot. But that's a small number compared to people who harbor dreams of being president (or vice president) and have filed as write-in candidates for the office.

On the plus side, filing to run as a write-in candidate for the nation's top or No. 2 job doesn't cost you anything. On the minus side, you'll almost certainly never know how many votes you got, or if you got any.

Washington has a long tradition of letting voters express their feelings about their choices of candidates in the general election by writing in a name not on the ballot. This sometimes results in support of a favored politician who didn't make it through the primary, and sometimes in the scribbling in of "Mickey Mouse" or some other fictitious character. If it makes you feel better, that's your right.

Write-in votes for a particular office are set aside when the ballots are counted by county elections officials. So sometime in November we'll know how many total write-in votes were cast in the state. But no one ever looks at the write-ins to tally them up unless there are more write-ins cast than the total for the top vote-getter in the race.  

To have an impact on the presidential race, there would have to be hundreds of thousands, or perhaps more than 1 million, write-in votes -- more than the total for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, whoever comes out on top in Washington.

The likelihood of that happening is about equal to the sun rising in the West tomorrow.

That doesn't keep folks from around the country from filing write-in candidacy forms with the state elections office. So far, 41 tickets -- including some that have only just would-be presidents with no vice president, and a few veeps with no prez wannabes -- have filed. For a list of who  has filed so far click here. 

Jim Camden
Jim Camden joined The Spokesman-Review in 1981 and retired in 2021. He is currently the political and state government correspondent covering Washington state.

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