write-in candidate



A write-in candidate is a candidate in an election whose name does not appear on the ballot, but for whom voters may vote nonetheless by writing in the person's name. Some states and local jurisdictions allow a voter to affix a sticker with a write-in candidate's name on it to the ballot in lieu of actually writing in the candidate's name. Write-in candidates rarely win, and votes are often cast for ineligible people or fictional characters. Most jurisdictions require write-in candidates to be registered as candidates before the election. This is usually mandatory in elections with large pools of potential office-holders, as there may be multiple people with the name that is written in.

Write-in candidates are a holdover from the time when ballot papers were blank, and had no names printed on them at all. Gradually, the ballots were arranged to have all the names of the candidates printed on them, with a "write-in" provision for latecomers.

United States

Typically, write-in candidates have a very small chance of winning, but there have been some notable write-in candidates in the past.

President

Senate

House of Representatives

  • In 1930 Republican Charles F. Curry, Jr. was elected to the House as a write-in from Sacramento, California. His father, Congressman Charles Curry Sr., was to appear on the ballot, but due to his untimely death his name was removed and no candidate's name appeared on the ballot.
  • Democrat Dale Alford was elected as a write-in candidate to the United States House of Representatives in Arkansas in 1958. As member of the Little Rock school board, Alford launched his write-in campaign a week before the election because the incumbent, Brooks Hays, was involved in the incident in which president Eisenhower sent federal troops to enforce racial integration at Little Rock Central High School. Racial integration was unpopular at the time, and Alford won by approximately 1,200 votes, a 2% margin.[1]
  • Republican Joe Skeen was elected as a write-in candidate to Congress in New Mexico in November 1980 after the incumbent Democrat, Harold Runnels, died in August of that year. No Republican filed to run against Runnels before the close of filing, and after the death, the New Mexico Secretary of State ruled that the Democrats could have a special primary to pick a replacement candidate, but the Republicans could not have a special election, since they had nobody to replace. Runnels' widow lost the special primary, and launched her own write-in candidacy, which split the Democratic vote and allowed Skeen to win with a 38% plurality.[1]
  • Ron Packard finished in second place in the 18 candidate Republican primary to replace the retiring Clair Burgener. Packard lost the primary by 92 votes in 1982, and then mounted a write-in campaign as an independent. He won the election with a 37% plurality against both a Republican and a Democratic candidate. Following the elections, he re-aligned himself as a Republican.[1]
  • Democrat Charlie Wilson was the endorsed candidate by the Democratic Party for the 6th congressional district in Ohio to replace Ted Strickland in 2006. Strickland was running for Governor and had to give up his congressional seat. Wilson, though, did not qualify for the ballot because only 46 of the 96 signatures on his candidacy petition were deemed valid, while 50 valid signatures were required for ballot placement. The Democratic Party continued to support Wilson, and an expensive primary campaign ensued - over $1 million was spent by both parties. Wilson overwhelmingly won the Democratic primary as a write-in candidate on May 2, 2006 against two Democratic candidates whose names were on the ballot, with Wilson collecting 44,367 votes, 67% of the Democratic votes cast.[2] Wilson faced Republican Chuck Blasdel in the general election on November 7, 2006, and won, receiving 61% of the votes.
  • Shelley Sekula-Gibbs failed as a write-in candidate in the November 7, 2006 election to represent the 22nd Texas congressional district in the 110th Congress (for the full term commencing January 3, 2007). The seat had been vacant since June 9, 2006, due to the resignation of the then representative, Tom DeLay. Therefore, on the same ballot, there were two races: one for the 110th Congress, as well as a race for the unexpired portion of the term during the 109th Congress (until January 3, 2007). Sekula-Gibbs won the race for the unexpired portion of the term during the 109th Congress as a candidate listed on the ballot. She could not be listed on the ballot for the full term because Texas law did not allow a replacement candidate to be listed on the ballot after the winner of the primary (Tom DeLay) has resigned.

State Legislatures

  • Charlotte Burks won as a Democratic write-in candidate for the Tennessee State Senate seat left vacant when the incumbent, her husband Tommy, was assassinated by his opponent, Byron Looper, two weeks before the elections of November 2, 1998. Because the assassination occurred only two weeks prior to the elections, the names of the dead incumbent and his assassin remained on the ballot, and Charlotte ran as a write in candidate.

Mayors/City Councils

  • Tom Ammiano, President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, entered the race for Mayor of San Francisco, California as a write-in candidate two weeks before the 1999 general election. He received 25% of the vote, coming in second place and forcing incumbent Mayor Willie Brown into a runoff election, which Brown won by margin of 59% to 40%. In 2001, the campaign was immortalized in the award-winning documentary film See How They Run.
  • Donna Frye ran as a write-in candidate for Mayor of San Diego, California in 2004. A controversy erupted when several thousand votes for her were not counted because the voters had failed to fill in the bubble next to the write-in line. Had those votes been counted, she would have won the election.
  • James Maher won the mayorship of Baxter Estates, New York on March 15, 2005 as a write-in candidate with 29 votes. Being the only one on the ballot, the incumbent mayor, James Neville, did not campaign, as he did not realize that there was a write-in campaign going on. Neville received only 13 votes.[3]
  • Michael Sessions, an 18-year-old high school senior, won as a write-in candidate for Mayor of Hillsdale, Michigan in 2005. He was too young to qualify for the ballot.
  • Anthony A. Williams, the Mayor of Washington, DC was forced to run as a write-in candidate in the 2002 Democratic primary, because he had too many invalid signatures for his petition. He won the Democratic primary, and went on to win re-election.
  • Michael Jarjura was re-elected Mayor of Waterbury, Connecticut in 2005 as a write-in candidate after losing the Democratic party primary to Karen Mulcahy, who used to serve as Waterbury's tax collector before Jarjura fired her in 2004 "for what he claimed was her rude and abusive conduct toward citizens.".[4] After spending $100,000 on a general elections write-in campaign,[5] Jarjura received 7,907 votes, enough for a plurality of 39%.[6]
  • Julia Allen of Readington, New Jersey won a write-in campaign in the November 2005 elections for the Township Committee,[7] after a candidate accused of corruption had won the primary. [8]
  • Beverly O'Neil won a third term as Mayor of Long Beach, California as a write-in candidate in 2002. The Long Beach City City Charter has a term limit amendment that says a candidate cannot be on the ballot after two full terms, but does not prevent the person from running as a write-in candidate. http://municipalcodes.lexisnexis.com/codes/longbeach_charter/_DATA/ARTICLE02/Sec__214__Term_Limitations_on_.html She finished first in a seven-candidate primary, but did not receive more than 50% of the vote, forcing a runoff contest. In the runoff, still restricted from the ballot, she got roughly 47% of the vote in a three-way election that included a second write-in candidate. http://www.presstelegram.com/news/ci_3942287

Others

  • Aaron Schock was elected to the District 150 School Board in Peoria, Illinois in 2001 by a write-in vote, after his petitions were challenged and his name was removed from the ballot. He defeated the incumbent by over 2,000 votes, approximately 6,400 to 4,300 votes.[9] He went on to serve in the Illinois House of Representatives.

Other countries

With a few exceptions, the practice of recognizing write-in candidates is typically viewed internationally as an American tradition.[10][11]
  • Several cases of elected write-in candidates took place in the 2006 Swedish municipal elections. Due to Swedish electoral law, free ballots are provided for any party that received more than 1 percent of the votes in one of the two latest parliamentary elections, irrespective of whether the party actually stood any candidates in the municipality. In some municipalities, voters cast a sufficient number of ballots for the nationalist Sweden Democrats to allow them to get a seat on the municipal council. (Municipal councils in Sweden are relatively large, with even the smallest municipalities, numbering just a few thousand inhabitants, required to have a council of at least 31 members.) In case the party did not field any eligible candidates, people whose names were written in were elected, though many subsequently resigned their seats. In places where no candidates were written in, the seats were left empty. [12]
  • A strange incident involving a fictitious write-in candidacy occurred in the small town of Picoazà, Ecuador in 1967. A company ran a series of campaign-themed advertisements for a foot powder called Pulvapies. Some of the slogans used included "Vote for any candidate, but if you want well-being and hygiene, vote for Pulvapies", and "For Mayor: Honorable Pulvapies." The foot powder Pulvapies ended up receiving the most votes in the election.[13]
  • In Brazil, until the introduction of electronic voting in 1994, the ballot had no names written for legislative candidates, so many voters would protest by voting on fictional characters or religious figures. However, those votes were not considered because Brazilian law stipulates that every person must be affiliated to a political party to take office.

Pop Culture

During the 2000 United States Congress Elections, filmmaker Michael Moore led a campaign for voters to submit a ficus tree as a write-in candidate. This campaign was replicated across the country and was recounted in an episode of The Awful Truth.

Notes

1. ^ Ken Rudin (2006-08-23). What Happens If Lieberman Wins. National Public Radio. Retrieved on 2006-09-03.
2. ^ Johnson, Alan. "Wilson wins primary as write-in candidate", The Columbus Dispatch, 2006-05-03. Retrieved on 2006-06-30. 
3. ^ Kazanjian O'Brien, Dolores. "Baxter Estates Mayor James Neville "Stunned" by Write-in Defeat", Port Washington News, 2005-04-01. Retrieved on 2006-06-30. 
4. ^ "Waterbury mayor to wage write-in campaign". 
5. ^ [1]
6. ^ [2]
7. ^ 2005 General Election results for Hunterdon County.
8. ^ [www.braac.org/HCN-readington_campaign_violations.pdf Reprint from The Huntington County News]
9. ^ School Board Write-in Campaign
10. ^ [3]
11. ^ [4]
12. ^ [5]
13. ^ Urban Legends Reference Page: (Politics) Political Podiatry
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referendum (plural referendums or referenda), ballot question, or plebiscite (from Latin plebiscita, originally a decree of the Concilium Plebis
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Apportionment is the process of allocating political power among a set of principles (or defined constituencies). In most governments political power is apportioned among constituencies based on population.
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redistricting in the United States and redistribution in many Commonwealth countries is the changing of political borders. Often this means changing electoral district and constituency boundaries, usually in response to periodic census results.
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Suffrage (from the Latin suffragium, meaning "vote") is the civil right to vote, or the exercise of that right. In that context, it is also called political franchise or simply the franchise.
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An election is a decision making process where people choose people to hold official offices. This is the usual mechanism by which modern democracy fills offices in the legislature, sometimes in the executive and judiciary, and for regional and local government.
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political party is a political organization that seeks to attain political power within a government, usually by participating in electoral campaigns. Parties often espouse a certain ideology and vision, but may also represent a coalition among disparate interests.
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Voting is a method of decision making wherein a group such as a meeting or an electorate attempts to gauge its opinion—usually as a final step following discussions or debates.

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An election is a decision making process where people choose people to hold official offices. This is the usual mechanism by which modern democracy fills offices in the legislature, sometimes in the executive and judiciary, and for regional and local government.
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ballot is a device (originally a small ball - see blackball) used to record choices made by voters. Each voter uses one ballot, and ballots are not shared. In the simplest elections, a ballot may be a simple scrap of paper on which each voter writes in the name of a candidate, but
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Voting is a method of decision making wherein a group such as a meeting or an electorate attempts to gauge its opinion—usually as a final step following discussions or debates.

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