Terms Glossary

Good Party's Terms Glossary is a list of definitions of words from the political and elections world. These terms are from an independent's perspective with an eye toward reform. If you have a suggestion for a new definition, send it to ask@goodparty.org.

Write-In Candidate

A write-in candidate is someone who runs for office but does not have their name on the ballot. Instead, voters have to physically write in the candidate's name on the ballot. Write-in candidates are often used as a last-minute alternative when a desired candidate did not make it through the primary or didn't qualify for the ballot.

In the United States, the rules for write-in candidates vary from state to state. Some states do not allow write-in candidates, while others have strict rules about how their names must be written on the ballot. For example, in some states, the write-in candidate must file paperwork before the election, while in others, the candidate doesn't have to do anything.

Despite the challenges, write-in candidates can be a powerful tool for voters looking for an alternative to the major party candidates. In the 2010 Alaska US Senate race, Lisa Murkowski was defeated in the primary but ran as a write-in candidate and ultimately won the general election. Additionally, in certain elections, write-in candidates can be a useful tool for protest votes, or for voters who want to vote for someone who does not appear on the ballot.

Write-in candidates are a unique aspect of the democratic process, giving voters more options and allowing for unexpected outcomes. They can be a powerful tool for voters looking for an alternative to the major party candidates, or for those who want to express their dissatisfaction with the current choices. They can also be a useful tool for protest votes and for voters who want to vote for someone who does not appear on the ballot.