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How to vote for a write-in candidate

In a general election, a voter can cast a write-in vote for a candidate whose name does not appear on the ballot.

To cast a write-in vote on a paper ballot:

  • Use a black pen and:
    • Fill in the oval to the left of the Write-in line for the contest in which you wish to cast a write-in vote.
    • Write the candidate’s first and last name on the write-in line next to the filled-in oval.
  • Any abbreviation, misspelling, or minor variation in the form of the name of a candidate shall be disregarded in determining the validity of the write-in vote as long as the intended candidate can be determined. Writing the last name only will constitute a valid vote, unless there is more than one candidate with the same last name.
  • Writing in the name of the candidate for President or Vice President will be counted as a vote for the joint office.
  • Candidates may give out cards containing a diagram and instructions, including how to spell the candidate's name. Applying stickers or labels to the ballot with the write-in candidate's name is not permitted.
  • If you write in a candidate’s name and change your mind, you will need a new ballot. If you are voting during early voting or on election day, ask an election judge for a new ballot. If you have an absentee ballot, contact your local board of elections and ask for a new ballot.
  • Failure to fill in the oval for a write-in will not invalidate the vote for that candidate.

To cast a write-in vote on the audio ballot:

  • Follow the instructions and use the key pad to select “Write-in.”
  • Use the keypad to enter, change and confirm each letter as you enter a write-in candidate’s name.
  • After entering a write-in candidate’s name, follow the instructions to continue voting.
  • Follow the instructions to change a write-in vote before casting your ballot.

Canvassing Write-in Votes

  • Each local board of elections will canvass the write-in votes for every filed write-in candidate.
  • Initially, each local board of elections will report all write-in votes as one total. During the 10-day canvassing period, each local board of elections will manually review all write-in votes and tally write-in votes for each filed write-in candidate.
  • Before a local board of elections certifies election results, the number of write-in votes cast for each write-in candidate will be reported individually.