Voting for a write-in candidate in a presidential election isn't as easy as it sounds. Write-in candidates must file legally mandated paperwork declaring their candidacy in every state in which they intend to run for office. If you write in the name of a candidate who has not filed this paperwork with the appropriate election authority in your state, your vote will not be counted. To successfully write in a presidential candidate, you must first find out which write-in candidates are running, then research your state's specific procedures for write-in voting.

Register to vote prior to your state's deadline for voting in the November presidential election.

Research write-in candidates who are running for president in your state. In most states, write-in candidates who register with the election authority before a certain deadline will be included in sample ballots sent to voters. If a candidate registers too late to appear on a sample ballot, you will need to use the Internet and other resources to find out about his campaign.

Find your polling place or order a mail-in ballot, if applicable in your state. You can find your polling place on a variety of websites or by calling your county election office.

Write your candidate's name on the line labeled, "Write-In." Print clearly and legibly according to instructions on the ballot. If using a electronic voting machine, follow on-screen instructions to enter a write-in candidate's name. If your candidate's campaign has provided you with a sticker to place on paper ballots, affix the sticker carefully on the write-in line.

Turn your ballot in as instructed at your polling place. Before you complete your ballot, check to make sure that you have voted for only one candidate for president. Ballots with votes for multiple candidates will be discarded.

Tip

  • Take advantage of mail-in, absentee and early voting wherever possible. This allows you to avoid long lines when voting.

    Use a sample ballot, which will be mailed to you, to familiarize yourself with local voting procedures.

    If you become confused when voting at a polling place, ask an election judge for help.

Tip

  • Don't write in a candidate unless you are sure that your candidate has registered with the appropriate election authority. Votes for unregistered candidates will be discarded.

    Campaigning inside a polling place is prohibited. Volunteer as much as you like for your candidate's campaign, but don't try to convert other voters inside your polling place.

    A write-in candidate has never been elected president of the United States. When voting for a write-in candidate, be aware that your candidate is unlikely to win.