How does the write-in candidate process work?

Posted at 5:16 PM, May 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-24 19:16:17-04

ADA COUNTY — If you voted in last week's Primary Election, you probably saw a lot of familiar names on the ballot. Beneath those names, is an option to write in a candidate’s name. But it's not that simple.

“A lot of people when they see their ballot see write-in options for every single office. That could be deceiving because all we count, is qualified write-ins,” Chief Deputy Ada County Clerk Trent Triple said.

To meet the qualifications, candidates have to declare their intent by the deadline and for the primary, they have to file and affiliate with a party.

“They have to be a qualified elector. They have to meet all of the same qualifications for the office that anyone else would meet,” Triple said.

The Ada County Election’s Office scanning system captures all of the write-in votes — and at the end of the night, poll workers tally up all of those votes.

“We grab the list of qualified write-ins and those specific offices to see if someone has written in their name and had voted for them,” Triple said. “A great example is Shelby Rongstad who ran. He received over 3,196 votes for a write-in. We had to go through every single one of those ballot signatures and make sure that the name was written correctly and that the person voted for them.”

While you can technically write in any name, it doesn’t mean you should because your vote just won't count.

“It gives us a good laugh on election night because we go through and see all of the different things that people have written in,” Triple said. “If they have the intent to vote for a write in, they should do a little bit of research and find out if the person is qualified to have their vote count toward that write-in. Otherwise, they are just not having their vote count.”

Looking ahead to November, candidates also need a certain amount of write-in votes from the primary election to become a candidate of a political party for the general election.

  • For any statewide office —1,000 votes.
  • For a congressional district office — 500 votes
  • For a legislative district office — 50 votes
  • For a county office — 5 votes

Triple also added they saw “Brad Little” as a write-in for a lot of democratic ballots, although that would not count toward his race since he was not a write-in candidate.