Don't 'vote against' - Write in your candidate!

Time after time I hear that folks are going to vote against McCain by voting for Obama or vice versa. For those of you thinking of doing that, I’ve got some news:


Any vote you cast is a vote FOR that candidate. Neither the voting machines nor the media know your heart of hearts and are not swayed by your reverse psychology. There is no box on the ballot to tick that indicates you are voting as a protest.

Imagine the news reports if that were so:

Anchorman: 45,072 votes cast so far for Candidate A, 37,934 for Candidate B. 1,784 against Candidate A and 2,307 against Candidate B.

Commentator: Quite a few folks looking at the lesser of two evils, eh Bob? Maybe we should consider that in the next election.

…yeah. Right.

So what to do?

Vote for the person you really do want. If there is a 3rd party candidate that appeals to you, vote for them. If you want Hillary Clinton or Ron Paul, cast a write-in vote.

But that’s throwing my vote away!!

Really? You’d rather vote FOR someone that you don’t really like, rather than the other ‘mainstream’ candidate you don’t like more? THAT is throwing away your vote, because you are lumping yourself in with those who do support the candidate you selected.

But my guy/gal won’t win!

  1. You actually don’t know that. No, it’s not likely that they will win, but if you only vote against someone then there’s less chance and no one knows who you really wanted.
  2. If you choose your candidate and spread the word, you might be surprised at the number of folks that follow your lead. Hopefully they’ll vote for the same person you do. :)

Can I make a write-in vote?

Check the specific rules for your state. Some allow them, others don’t. Some also set specific conditions on qualifying candidates.

Other folks have done some research on this matter and I’ve provided the links here, but even if their site says you can/cannot, be sure to check with your own SoS or elections officials (and let me know the link). – Write-In Facts by State – 2008 Presidential Election Write-In Rules

Okay, so how do I vote for someone else?

A few caveats

This is important: Do NOT mark the “Straight Party Vote” box (usually at the top of the ballot). In some states, this means you are voting for that party’s candidate even if you do write in someone else. More enlightened states consider if you write in or vote for someone else in a specific area, but to be safe, don’t tick it.

Yes, this means you’ll get a bit more wrist strain by filling in all the little circles but you’ll live, and are you really so trusting of your party that you blindly go with them on everything??

Do not make any identifying marks on the ballot. Other than writing in your candidate, don’t add extra commentary or scribbles that could be used to identify the ballot. This could cause the vote to be discounted or put into the ‘Disputed Ballots’ box, which are not counted unless the election is really close.

The procedure

The exact method may vary a bit by state and voting machine. Here we use the ballots where you color in the circle next to the names and those are counted by machine. I understand this is a common method, so I’ll cover it. If folks could contribute other machine/state methods I’d appreciate it.

If your candidate is a 3rd party on the ballot, just fill in the circle next to them-easy.

If your candidate is not on the ballot, look just below the printed candidates. You should see a circle to fill in to indicate a write-in vote and 2 or three lines. Make sure you fill in the circle or again your vote may not be counted!

Using a dark ink pen if allowed (so it cannot be erased/altered), clearly print the name of your candidate as he/she is popularly known and state of residence, followed by the office (e.g. Hillary Clinton of New York for President or Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut for Vice President). Some ballots may specify a line for President and one for Vice President, allowing you to omit that last bit. Do not add their party affiliation, as that may constitute an ‘identifying mark’.

Some voting places may not allow it, but if you are insecure about your vote being counted, use your camera/cell phone to take a photo of it. It won’t be ‘official’ but may be used to raise questions if no write-ins for that candidate were noted.

Finish the rest of the ballot and turn it in as normal (feeding to the machine, etc).

That’s it. Not really that hard is it?

As Polonius advised:
This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Farewell; my blessing season this in thee!

Other sites advocating write-in votes

Insert generic disclaimer of candidate endorsement here.

A list of voting instructions by state/district:

If anyone can provide missing or more informative links, please do! -and check out the site above. There are links to the SoS/Election sites for each state. This list is more aimed at specific voting instructions.


1 Christopher - Oct 15, 08:11 AM

A number of people will be writing my
name in on Nov. 4th as a 3rd Party Candidate. It is so difficult to
get on ballots in every state. Now I discover that even in my home state of Ma.
I shall be hard pressed to get any recognition at all. I am joined by several
other Independents all over the country,
who are frustrated by this inequitable

2 andyson - May 11, 09:44 PM

Now I discover that even in my home state of Ma..


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