By Heather Brown

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Every four years, less than one-half of 1 percent of Minnesota voters write in a candidate’s name for president.  This election cycle, some experts think that percentage could grow.

So, Barbara from Elk River wants to know: Are write-in votes counted? Good Question.

It depends on the state where the vote is cast. According to Ballotpedia, no write-in candidates for president are permitted in nine states.  In seven states, election officials count any candidate who is written in for President.  In the other 34 states, including Minnesota, write-in presidential candidates must be registered for their ballots to be counted.

“Mickey Mouse does not get counted for President,” says Ginny Gelms, Hennepin County elections manager. “However, Mickey Mouse would get counted for City Council.”

By Minnesota state law, write-in candidates for local or city elections must be tallied. (In some cities, including Minneapolis, there are additional requirements for charter city offices.)  For county, state and federal elections, the write-in votes are only counted if a candidate is registered as a write-in.  Candidates must fill out paperwork at the Secretary of State’s Office to register.

So far, eighteen people are registered as write-in candidates for president in Minnesota, including one man who calls himself, “Joe the Painter.”

Write-in ballots are counted at the city level.  First, electronic ballot counters take digital images of the ballots and separate out which ones have candidates written in.  Then, those digital ballots with write-in votes are sent to the city election judges to be counted. The entire process can take a couple of days.

In Minnesota, there is at least one write-in candidate serving office. The treasurer of Minnetonka Beach was not on the ballot two years ago, but was written in and received the most votes.  According to Minnetonka Beach officials, he was the former treasurer who had decided to step down.  Upon winning again, though, he agreed to serve.

Comments (7)
  1. Wanye Kest says:

    Only if Al Franken needs them.

  2. Wanye Kest says:

    “Mickey Mouse does not get counted for President,” says Ginny Gelms, Hennepin County elections manager. “However, Mickey Mouse would get counted for City Council.” – He’d also be an upgrade for Minneapolis. The jokes just write themselves.

  3. Feel the Bern says:

    First your vote is examined and then ‘corrected’ if you make a mistake.

  4. I was a registered write-in candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District in 2008, yet few precincts tallied votes cast for me. See correspondence with Minnesota Secretary of State »

  5. Danny S. says:

    If someone registers as a write-in candidate for President in a state, do they need to select a slate of electors? If not, what do they expect to happen in the unlikely event they are elected? It’s the electoral votes that actually select the President.

  6. Chris anderson says:

    This needs to change its bad.

  7. Left out of this story. WHO ARE the 18 write-in candidates running for President?

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