Here's Why Writing in a Candidate Is Probably a Waste of Your Time

November 3rd 2016

Danielle DeCourcey

The two major-party presidential candidates have left some voters wishing for more options.

Some voters feel like the choice between Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is a reluctant choice for the lesser of two bad options. And some (including some Sen. Bernie Sanders supporters) are planning to write-in a candidate.

However, in most states, you can't just write in any candidate.

The Washington Post's Denise Lu and Kevin Uhrmacher made a list of state rules about write-in candidates.

In eight states, ballots do not allow write-ins for presidential candidates at all. Here's the list:

  1. Nevada
  2. South Dakota
  3. New Mexico
  4. Arkansas
  5. Oklahoma
  6. Louisiana
  7. South Carolina
  8. Hawaii

In 32 states, candidates need to file paperwork to register as a write-in candidate for the presidential election.

  1. Maine
  2. Massachusetts
  3. New York
  4. Connecticut
  5. Delaware
  6. Maryland
  7. Virginia
  8. West Virginia
  9. Kentucky
  10. North Carolina
  11. Georgia
  12. Tennessee
  13. Florida
  14. Wisconsin
  15. Michigan
  16. Ohio
  17. Illinois
  18. Indiana
  19. Minnesota
  20. Missouri
  21. North Dakota
  22. Nebraska
  23. Kansas
  24. Texas
  25. Montana
  26. Colorado
  27. Idaho
  28. Utah
  29. Arizona
  30. Alaska
  31. Washington
  32. California

There are only 10 states plus the District of Columbia that don't require any prior filing for write-in candidates.

  1. New Hampshire
  2. Vermont
  3. Rhode Island
  4. New Jersey
  5. Pennsylvania
  6. Mississippi
  7. Alabama
  8. Iowa
  9. Wyoming
  10. Oregon

Who is the most successful write-in candidate of all time?

Ralph Nader and Ron Paul are two of the most successful write-in candidates. However, it's hard to say for sure because some states don't make write-in candidate numbers public: In 2000, Ralph Nader won 2 percent of the vote in Wyoming, which is the most a write-in candidate has ever won in a single state, according to the Post. Bustle reported that Ron Paul's website said that he received 17,000 write-in votes in the state of California in 2008.

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