HOUSTON - What do Mickey Mouse, JJ Watt, and Sam Houston have in common?
All of them have been written-in on official Harris County election ballots but only properly certified write-in candidates actually count.
Voter Tom Cunningham considered writing-in a presidential candidate as he stood in line Monday outside the West Gray polling site, citing the polarizing presidential campaign.
“I think I could do as good a job as either of the two candidates,” said Cunningham. “If there was something in the constitution that allowed it, I would be there.”
Most states, including Texas, allow write-in votes. Hundreds are cast every election for fictional characters, dead politicians and celebrities.
“Mickey Mouse will always get a vote, he always does, but it won’t count,” said Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart. Stanart calls them truly wasted votes.
“Because the only votes we will county is those who register as write-in candidates, or an official candidate,” said Stanart.
The Secretary of State’s office requires a declaration and nominating petition signed by a certain number of qualified voters in order to get proper write-in status. There are 13 write-in choices in the presidential race this year and just a few qualified write-in candidates in other local races.
Most people waiting to vote early weren’t that interested in giving up their votes.
“I fought for the right to vote, black people did,” said voter Kwincy Jones. “I’m not going to throw it away on a wasteful write-in.”
Even Cunningham admitted he’d probably change his mind once inside. “Because when I get to the ballot box, it’s going to be a choice and I’ll have to make it,” said Cunningham.
There’s a list in the ballot box if you do choose to vote for an official write-in candidate. Votes for Mickey Mouse or similar choices are automatically rejected.