SPOKANE, Wash. -- Plenty of KREM 2 viewers reached out to ask what happens if you choose a write-in candidate when you cast your vote this November?
“My understanding is that if I write-in a vote for Bernie Sanders in Washington…that my vote for Bernie would be counted in Washington. Is that true?” asked viewer Cecil in an email.
The answer is yes, your vote counts, but actually getting a write-in candidate elected is incredibly difficult.
The write-in system in Washington State works like this:
You can vote for any name you want for president. Once the vote is cast, state election officials will include it with all the other write-in ballots but your chosen candidate will still not be counted.
Then, only if the number of write in ballots exceeds the votes of any other candidate like Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, will those write-in votes be tabulated. Election officials would then have to keep tabs on your specific write-in candidate.
Should a specific write-in candidate get more votes than any of the others, including Clinton or Trump, then they would be declared the winner and take Washington’s electoral votes.
The chances of a write-in candidate winning the state are extremely slim; other than in small towns, nothing like that has ever happened here at the Washington state level, much less a federal level.
Ballots for Spokane County are scheduled to be sent out this week. Election day is Nov. 8.
In Idaho, write-ins are counted in a similar way. Election officials will tally all of the write-ins cumulatively, just like in Washington, and they will be lumped together as "write-in votes."
If the write-in is for someone who has filed a "declaration of intent" as a write-in candidate, then that vote will be counted as a valid vote for that candidate.