With Nov. 8 drawing closer, many people who supported Bernie Sanders in the primaries have been left with a big question mark about what to do next. If you're still "feeling the Bern" after all this time, you may be wondering, "Can I write in Bernie Sanders for president?" The rules for writing in a presidential candidate aren't nearly as straightforward you might think, though — and, in fact, it largely depends upon the state in which you're actually voting.
Writing in candidates isn't a new concept by any means; indeed, Franklin D. Roosevelt won the New Jersey presidential primary in 1940 thanks to write-in votes. And write-ins have continued all the way up through history and into the present, too: In 1996, Ralph Nader secured a large number of write-ins, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski from Alaska actually won re-election back in 2010 after she lost the Republican primary. Of course, it's not very likely that a write-in candidate will win, but it is theoretically possible.
Considering the fact that Bernie Sanders had such an enthusiastic following before Hillary Clinton clinched the Democratic nomination, it's not a surprise that many of his supporters are thinking about writing him into their ballot. Many are still incredibly disappointed that their candidate of choice didn't make it to the general election, and also dissatisfied with both the two major party nominees and the two third-party choices.
So, if you've been considering a write-in vote for Bernie, here's what you need to know: There are 34 states in which write-in candidates must fill out paperwork before the election in order to qualify, according to Ballotpedia. Writing in candidates isn't allowed in nine states (Nevada, South Dakota, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Hawaii). The remaining states allow you to pencil in any candidate for president. If you're curious to know what rules apply to which states, here's a handy map. Remember, your vote counts only for the state that you're officially registered in!
Bear in mind, though, that Bernie Sanders hasn't registered to be a write-in candidate. That means if you're voting in one of the aforementioned 34 states that accept write-in candidates on the condition that the proper paperwork has been filed first, Sanders won't count in the electoral process. (It's unsurprising that he didn't register as a write-in candidate; he has said that he will be supporting Clinton and has previously even asked his own supporters not to cast a protest vote.) Votes for Sanders will only count in the seven states where any candidate can be written on the ballot (Oregon, Iowa, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Vermont). Because of this, Sanders winning as a write-in candidate isn't really in the cards.
For those of you who still say "Bernie or bust," you can technically write his name in anyway instead of choosing between Clinton or Trump; it is, as they say, a free country. You just won't necessarily being able to count on your vote actually, well, counting. One thing's for sure, though: It's been a wild election cycle so far. And if you choose to write in... it's just going to get wilder.
Images: Getty; Giphy