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National
Can a write-in candidate win the 2016 presidential election?
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Can a write-in candidate win the 2016 presidential election?

Can a write-in candidate win the 2016 presidential election?
FILE - In this Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016, file photo, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speak during the second presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis. The contentiousness of the presidential election is spilling into some workplaces. And even when there’s no rancor, more time is spent on election chatter than in the past. Rather than try to control what people are saying, owners should focus on whether the work is getting done in an atmosphere that’s not hostile. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

Can a write-in candidate win the 2016 presidential election?

Once only the realm of Mickey Mouse, Snoopy or the cat who has been mayor of a town in Alaska for the past 15 years, the write-in vote is fast becoming the hippest civics expression on the block.

With polls showing Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and Democratic rival Hillary Clinton at unpopular poll numbers rarely seen in U.S. presidential elections, the search for an alternative is at a fever-pitch.

One attractive option is the write-in candidate — at least it is if Google searches are to be believed.

Online searches for the term “write-in” candidate set a record last week (a 2,800 percent increase over a record high for the search term set in 2004). According to Google Trends, the greatest number of searches came in states that are traditionally Republican and Democratic strongholds, not, as you may think, from swing states.

While it can be fun to write in the name of your favorite Kardashian, or your aunt, Edna, it doesn’t really advance the cause of democracy.

Here’s a quick look at what it takes for a write-in vote to count and why it’s not likely to change the political landscape this year.

What is a write-in vote?

A write-in vote happens when a voter writes-in the name of a person they wish to vote for instead of choosing a candidate whose name appears on the ballot. This type of vote in a presidential election is allowed in some form in 43 states.

If I want to vote this way, may I write in any name?

Sure you can. But, just a warning, if you are going with Darth Vader this election cycle, your victory party could be poorly attended.

The problem with writing in Darth Vader, other than the fact that he is a fictional character, is that he has not registered as a write-in candidate.

Wait. What? You have to register to be a write-in candidate?

In 35 states you do. And, in most of those states, the cutoff date to fill out paperwork or pay a fee has passed.

This is America, and I want vote for Darth Vader and have it count, what can I do?

You can live in one of eight states — Alabama, Delaware, Iowa, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont and Wyoming — that allow voters to write-in any name they wish.

Any states that do not allow write-in votes?

Yes, there are seven states that do not allow write-in votes, or do so under very strict circumstances (for example, the death of a candidate who is already on the ballot). Those state are: Arkansas, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, Oklahoma and South Dakota.

Has any president ever been elected this way?

No, no one has been elected president as a write-in candidate, but a sitting U.S. senator was elected that way. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) lost the Republican primary in her state in 2010, but won the Senate seat in the general election through a write-in candidacy.

Let’s imagine the write-in candidate wins the popular vote for president, what then?

That would be an interesting question; on election day, when we pull the lever (or write in a name), we are not voting for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, we are voting for a slate of "electors" who are charged with representing our state’s vote when the electoral college meets to elect the president and vice president.

The Constitution of the United States does not dictate for whom the electors must vote, but some states do direct the votes of its electors. The electors generally vote for their party’s nominee when it comes to casting electoral college votes.

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  • Pushing the House to take another step this week on the road to major tax reforms, President Donald Trump used an op-ed in USA Today to argue that GOP tax plans will “ignite America’s middle class miracle once again,” as he channeled former President Ronald Reagan, saying with “tax reform, we can make it morning in America again.” “Revising our tax code is not just a policy discussion — it is a moral one, because we are not talking about the government’s money – we are talking about your money, your hard work,” the President wrote. Mr. Trump meanwhile used a conference call with House Republicans on Sunday to make much the same argument – that now is the time for action on tax reform. Here is where things stand on Capitol Hill when it comes to GOP plans to move legislation on tax reform. 1. The budget comes first for the GOP. 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The House Ways and Means Committee started work on a draft bill in late September 1985 – it took two months to finish. The deal almost fell apart in December, as the House voted to approve that plan just before Christmas. In the Senate, it took six months to get the bill out of committee and to a vote, in June 1986. In other words, Republicans think they can move at legislative warp speed compared to thirty one years ago in the Congress. House GOP leaders hope to pass tax reform by Thanksgiving, according to several ppl on House GOP conference call today w President Trump. — Ben Siegel (@benyc) October 22, 2017 5. Remember, there are a lot of details involved. If you are going to do just tax cuts, that’s pretty straightforward. But if you are going to try to do sweeping tax reform – for both the individual and corporate sides – that is very complicated. Just look back at 1986, and you can see that bill is filled with rifle-shot provisions intended to help just one company or group. 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The Senate took that up a few weeks later, and made some changes, which were sent back to the House. The House made a few more changes. But no final resolution was agreed to, as the Congress adjourned for the year on October 18, 1986. So, four days later, the President signed the bill into law anyway. Want to do some more reading about what happened in 1986? Here you go: As we move closer to a tax reform bill, here's the breakdown of the 1986 Tax Reform Act – https://t.co/Zy4ycObxRl — Jamie Dupree (@jamiedupree) October 20, 2017 And by the way, that explanation of the 1986 Tax Reform Act runs almost 1,400 pages. Happy reading!
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