The Write-In Ballot is the fantastical “out” for independent voters everywhere. Don’t like the candidates listed for a given position? Go ahead and write in your own name or your best friend’s or Kanye West. You might not win, but at least you will have lodged a vote for the best candidate for the office, while striking a blow for independence. In the back of your mind, you may even indulge the fantasy of puzzled pundits reacting to a tide of votes for an unknown name. Can’t you picture Wolf Blitzer on election night announcing, “In an unexpected development, it appears that Tony Botello has emerged as the leading vote-getter for Missouri Governor. Stand by for Jay Nixon’s stunned concession speech . . .”?
Unfortunately, it’s not quite that easy.
Write-in ballots only count in Missouri if the named person has filed with the Secretary of State’s office prior to 5:00 p.m. on the second Friday immediately preceding the election day. Votes for write-in candidates who haven’t jumped through the hoops don’t even get counted.
So, sadly, writing “Martin Sheen” in for president won’t get us President Bartlett.