SANTA FE – New Mexico voters hoping to cast a ballot for a write-in candidate in this year’s presidential election are out of luck.
And when it comes to voting for write-in candidates for other offices here, it’s not as simple as picking any name and penciling it in – at least, if you want your vote to count.
Only votes for eligible write-in candidates – those who have actually filed in advance of a deadline – are counted under state law.
In other words, “Mickey Mouse” could not be elected to office in New Mexico, no matter how many write-in votes the friendly rodent might get, if he had not filed a declaration of candidacy.
Overall, New Mexico is one of at least eight states that do not allow write-in ballots for the office of president.
While the state does not explicitly bar write-in candidates from running for president, there is effectively no way for such candidates to qualify for the ballot in New Mexico, said state Bureau of Elections Director Kari Fresquez.
That’s because state laws only allow for presidential candidates nominated by political parties – both major and minor – and for independent candidates to land on the ballot.
“The statute does not provide for a method for presidential electors to be nominated for a write-in candidate,” Fresquez told the Journal on Friday.
Write-in candidates can qualify to run for all other elected offices in New Mexico, she added.
However, the write-in option only appears on the ballot – with a corresponding “bubble” for the voter to mark and space for a name to be written – in races that feature at least one qualified write-in candidate.
New Mexico has several qualified write-in candidates for this year’s Nov. 8 election, and there’s a rare situation in a race for a northern New Mexico Public Education Commission seat.
That race, for the PEC District 10 seat, features two qualified write-in candidates – Tim Crone and Anthony “TJ” Trujillo – and no other candidates.
While unopposed write-in candidates generally have to receive a certain amount of votes to be declared victorious, there will be no such vote requirement in that race since there are two qualified write-in candidates.
Bureau of Elections Fresquez said that there’s been some confusion in media reports about that detail of the Public Education Commission race, but said she wasn’t aware of any widespread voter confusion regarding write-in candidates.
“I don’t know of any specific confusion from county clerks, and we have provided guidance and training regarding the handling of write-in candidates to them,” Fresquez said Friday.
Despite the labyrinth of rules, there is some leeway when it comes to misspelling write-in candidates’ names: As long as the written name – it can’t be just a last name – can be “reasonably determined” by a majority of members of a precinct board, the vote will be counted.