The Hazards of Getting a Write-in Vote for President Counted

No group of voters (except for ex-felons and felons, and residents the District of Columbia, and of the U.S. territorial possessions) is treated worse than voters who cast a write-in vote for president, even if the presidential candidate has filed for write-in status.

States don’t tally any write-in votes for president until December, and sometimes January. Certain areas of the country illegally don’t count them at all. Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and the District of Columbia all refuse to provide a tally for the declared write-in candidates. In the case of the District of Columbia, this is especially egregious, since a D.C. court explicitly ordered such tallies for declared write-in presidential candidates, in 1975, in the aftermath of the Kamins v D.C. Board of Elections lawsuit. Also, in the case of Oregon, the State Supreme Court ruled in 1945 that the Oregon Constitution protects write-in votes.

New York city habitually fails to count any write-in votes for the declared write-in presidential candidates. The Board says it is too much work to take down the heavy rolls of paper from the mechanical voting machines and look at them. About 15 counties in Pennsylvania, including Philadelphia, also regularly fail to tally any write-in votes at general elections. A proposed lawsuit to challenge this behavior in Pennsylvania has been talked about for almost two years now, but the attorneys still have not filed it.


The Hazards of Getting a Write-in Vote for President Counted — 10 Comments

  1. Thanks for all the encouragement, Richard! Remind me not to contact you if I am ever considering suicide!:-)

    Jim Clymer says PA told him it is sending out directive to counties to count write-ins…Gee, I feel so much better knowing the state government is at work protecting our voting rights.

  2. Too much work?

    Maybe I think its too much work to count any votes at all. We’ll just use an average of the last three polls in the state.

    Perhaps I think its too much work to fill out an income tax form.

    I can just see that sitting in the state revised code:

    Upon closure of the polls, election workers will immediately count the ballots and keep totals for all candidates for office unless that would be too difficult for them, in which case they don’t have to.

  3. Gary Odom- Feel free to call me if you are ever suicidal! 😉

    Oh, that’s right… I hide behind a pseudonym!

  4. Of the states mentioned, Oregon listed the write-in vote totals for Lester Maddox (AIP) and Tom Anderson (AP) and that was the last time any of the state officals did.

  5. The purpose of an election is to determine a winner, not who receives votes. If it is not necessary to count certain ballots in order to ascertain a winner, why does it matter whether a tally is kept?

    If we truly wanted to protect the right of voters to reliably express their choice and have it recorded, we should have public voting, rather than secret ballots.

  6. Oregon changed its law in 1995 to say that declared write-in candidates may no longer get their votes counted, unless the vote-counting equipment seems to indicate that they might have won.

    If the purpose of an election is to determine a winner, why not just go with the polls and throw all the ballots in the trash? The polls seems clear that Obama will win. There are many more functions of counting ballots than just to determine who was elected. The legal rights of political parties to continued ballot status, and to eligibility for public funding, rest on how many votes they got.

  7. Gore was the first declared winner in 2000. Throw the other ballots away. And lets not have any of this talk of public opinion and communication with the government.

    Winner take all, the first winner, the winner the voting officals like, the winner whom looks best on a postage stamp, the winner whom I personally like. Any one got a problem with that?

    Josef Stalin: ‘They that cast votes deside nothing; they that count votes deside everything!’

    ———-Don Lake, I hate Dems and GOP

  8. It’s interesting that the mass media and everyone else with a name says for us to vote! Then, when the ‘winner’ wins, the hell with the write-in vote! Keep your names, name-less souls.

  9. I think it’s a shame, I know someone who voted for Al Gore for the President the third time in a row! It would be awesome to get a rundown of all the write ins to see how many votes Snoopy and Stephen Colbert got…

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