Plenty of write-in choices for president

No, “Mickey Mouse” doesn’t count. Neither does “Batman” or “Anyone else.” Not even “Bernie Sanders” counts.

Next Tuesday, many voters — who are likely disillusioned with Democrat Hillary Clinton, Republican Donald Trump or both of the third-party candidates — may think they can write anyone’s name for president in the empty box at the bottom of their ballot. While nothing can stop them from doing that, such votes may not necessarily count at all.

According to New York state Election Law Section 6-153, a person who runs as a write-in candidate for president must file a certificate with the New York state Board of Elections no later than the third Tuesday before the general election.

A total of 32 individuals are running as certified write-in candidates for president in New York state this election cycle. Write-in votes cast for anyone other than these 32 candidates are reported by local boards of elections in their aggregated “scattering” figures. In other words, the votes are not formally tallied.

So, while highly unlikely that any of these candidates has a snowball’s chance in hell of winning the presidency, if you care about having your voice count and you wish to write someone’s name on your ballot, vote for one of them. Or, more accurately, pick the one with the coolest name.

“Anytime there’s a write-in, regardless of what the race is, the optical scan machine puts it (the ballot) in a separate slot for us,” Chautauqua County Republican Election Commissioner Brian Abram explained. “… it pulls it back through and puts it into a special area in the front half of the machine, and thus, once we get them at the end of the night, the write-in ones go into a bag and the (ones without write-ins) obviously have already fallen into a bag. We secure everything and send it back to Mayville for evaluation. So, we make sure that anybody who has a need for a write-in tally that they’re going to be duly noted and done the right way for everybody.”

Abram mentioned 166 Chautauqua County residents wrote in a presidential candidate during the 2012 election. It is unclear how many of those residents voted for a valid candidate. A total of 53,183 votes were cast in the county that year.

In 2008, only 40 write-in votes were cast, 10 of which actually counted toward a certified presidential candidate — eight for Chuck Baldwin and two for Brian Moore. The other 30 were counted as scatterings. A total of 60,087 votes were cast in Chautauqua County that year.

The following individuals have made valid presidential write-in filings with the state Board of Elections: Arantxa Aranja, Neer R. Asherie, Mark Blickley, Gary S. Canns, Ariel Cohen, William J. Connolly, Jason Fried, Michael Frederick Ingbar, Lynn Kahn, Jason Mutford, Esther Welsh, Barbara Whitaker and Robert M. Wolff, all of New York state; Robert L. Buchanan, of Virginia; Willie Carter, Chris Keniston and Tony Valdivia, all of Texas; Darrell Castle, of Tennessee; “Rocky” Rogue De La Fuente and J.J. Vogel-Walcutt, both of Florida; Zoltan Istvan Gyurko, Gloria La Riva, Jeffrey Mackler, Clifton Roberts and Emidio Soltysik, all of California; Ben Hartnell, of Ohio; Tom Hoefling, of Iowa; Michael A. Maturen, of Michigan; Evan McMullin, of Washington, D.C; Monica Moorehead, of New Jersey; Marshall Schoenke, of Illinois; and Ryan Alan Scott, of Delaware.

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