Can I Write In Evan McMullin? The Election Is Not Strictly Limited To Hillary Clinton & Donald Trump

Between allegations of sexual misconduct and troves of leaked emails, this year's presidential election has inspired a substantial amount of talk about third-party candidates. Yet, voters dismayed at the idea of having to choose between Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton do have other options. While the presidential campaigns of Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson and Green Party nominee Jill Stein are fairly well-known by now, there's one candidate a majority of voters may be unfamiliar with. Many voters won't find Evan McMullin listed on the ballot, but he's an eligible write-in candidate in several states.

McMullin launched his presidential campaign Aug. 10 in response to Trump's policies. While the former CIA operative and former chief policy director for the House Republicans Conference was driven to hit the campaign trail as a "Never Trump" independent candidate, he's aiming to be a conservative challenge to both Clinton and Trump.

Although McMullin lacks many of the resources his two biggest rivals have at their disposal, his campaign is drawing quite a bit of attention in his home state of Utah. In the most recent CBS News/YouGov poll of Utah voters, Clinton and McMullin both trail Trump at 20 percent.

McMullin's rise in the polls in Utah has helped his campaign pick up steam across the country. What many of McMullin's supporters are wondering is whether their vote for him will count. The truth is that in some states it might not. Nine states don't allow for write-in candidates at all. McMullin has managed to get listed as an independent presidential candidate on the ballot in four of these states, but voters in Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada, Oklahoma, and South Dakota will find themselves unable to cast a vote — write-in or otherwise — for him.

In states where write-in candidates are allowed, the process isn't as simple as jotting down the name of anyone you'd like to see move into the Oval Office. It goes without saying that fictional people are not eligible, but there's more to qualifying as a write-in candidate than being real.

Thirty-three states have registration rules that require eligible write-in candidates to at the very least file declarations of intent. As of now, McMullin is on the ballot in 11 states and registered as an eligible write-in candidate in 23 additional states. However, in states where McMullin missed the registration deadline for write-in candidates, he's encouraging supporters to write in his name anyway, on the promise that his campaign "will be fighting to ensure that every vote for Evan McMullin is counted."

Voters interested in casting a ballot for McMullin who live outside of Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Mexico, South Carolina, Utah, and Virginia can check his official campaign website to see if he qualified as a write-in candidate in their state.