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"An official write-in candidate..."

By Scott Tibbs, August 4, 2015

So what does it mean to be "an official write-in candidate" for elective office in the state of Indiana? How exactly does that work, and how are the votes counted?

You hear every election about people writing in a name, even for a fictional character like Bugs Bunny. But under Indiana law, those votes are not counted. Even votes for a real person who is qualified to serve in the office are not counted. The only time write-in votes are not counted is if that person has filed to be an official write-in candidate for that office. I filed my paperwork to be a write-in candidate on June 19, along with a form organizing my campaign fundraising committee. Later, I will be required to submit a report on campaign contributions and expenses.

Basically, if a voter writes my name in for city council at-large, the vote will be counted. If a voter writes my name in for mayor or city clerk, the vote will not be counted.

The most famous write-in candidate in recent memory is Lisa Murkowski, who lost a Republican primary for U.S. Senate in 2010. Alaska (unlike Indiana) does not have a "sore loser" law, so she was able to run as a write in candidate. She won re-election in a three-way race with less than 40% of the vote. She had a number of advantages that I obviously do not have, so my situation and hers are not comparable. It will be interesting to see what happens in this fall's election, though, and how many votes I get.