Write-in candidates are a unique part of voting. The write-in option is often on a ballot, but many voters are unsure how write-in votes are counted. When you’re uncertain of whom to vote for on a ballot, voters may be tempted to write in a friend’s name, or possibly the name of a famous animated mouse. Even local celebrity RooRoo the Rooster has fans dedicated to his write-in race.
But, does that really count? Can you write in any name? If enough people write in RooRoo, could he really win?
Unfortunately for RooRoo, no – he will never be an elected official no matter how many write-in votes he gets. There are laws determining who is – and who isn’t – a write-in candidate. You may feel your neighbor should be a county leader and urge hundreds of your friends to write in their name, but if they haven’t followed the candidacy rules those votes won’t count.
There are important steps to becoming a write-in candidate. A candidate files notice in the newspaper. Then the candidate presents a copy of the notice and a signed affidavit to their election officials. The officials verify the candidate’s eligibility as a resident voter in the district. Once these steps are complete, they are a qualified write-in candidate.
A list of qualified write-in candidates will be posted at your polling location and online. Any write-in vote for that name will be counted on election night by a panel of vote review judges. Worried about spelling? Do your best! If the vote review judges can determine your intent to vote for a qualified candidate – it will count! Unsure of who to vote for? Ask for a sample ballot to review ahead of time or leave that race blank and move on to the next section of your ballot.
But what about all those names submitted who aren’t qualified write-in candidates?
Those names do not count, but they do delay getting results on election night. The vote review judges must inspect every ballot with a write-in entry. There is no way to automatically eliminate non-qualified names. Each entry, legitimate or not, takes time to review and either count or reject.
In elections with a write-in option, Glynn County voters typically cast several unqualified write-in votes that must be rejected. In some elections, there have been so many unqualified entries it has delayed election results by an hour or more. If you’ve ever stayed up late waiting for election results, you may understand how frustrating a delay is for the public.
Choosing to use your write-in vote, and the name you submit, is your right as a voter. We would encourage you to make sure your vote is counted! Voting for a qualified write-in candidate will help ensure all county voters get results as quickly as possible on election night.
Know before you vote: To review sample ballots for the upcoming May 24, 2022 General Primary, click here: Sample Ballots. For read more about write-in voting election laws, click here: O.C.G.A. § 21-2-133