Want to write in a candidate for president? Here's what you need to know

In response to the release of the 2005 tape showing Donald Trump making lewd comments about women, several prominent Republicans have said that instead of voting for him or Hillary Clinton, they'll write in a candidate more to their liking.

GOP senators Kelly Ayotte, Rob Portman, and Cory Gardner all have said they plan to write in the name of Trump's running mate, Mike Pence. Sen. John McCain has said he might write in his friend and fellow senator Lindsey Graham.

Talking about writing someone in might sound like a convenient option for Republican politicians who find themselves caught between swing voters and their base, thanks to Trump's misogyny.

But, in many states, those votes won't count.

Different states have different rules for write-in candidates, but they can be divided into three broad categories. Nine states — Arkansas, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Carolina and South Dakota — won't accept any write-ins at all.

Washington, along with 33 other states, requires write-in candidates to file some paperwork in advance of the election, including a declaration of candidacy, for those votes to count. Portman's Ohio, Gardner's Colorado, and McCain's Arizona are also states that require paperwork.

Then there's a handful of states, including Oregon and Ayotte's New Hampshire, that have no requirements for write-in candidates. So all write-in votes are counted, whoever they're cast for.

In many states, the deadline to file paperwork has already passed. In Washington, the deadline to file as a write-in candidate for president is October 21. Perhaps needless to say, neither Pence nor Graham has filed to be a write-in candidate anywhere.

MORE INFO: State-by-state requirements for write-in candidates (Ballotpedia)

There is some precedent for write-in candidates.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski won re-election to the U.S. Senate as a write-in candidate in 2010 after losing the primary for the Republican nomination to a Tea Party backed candidate.


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