November 2nd, 2007


Write-In Votes & Cultural Expectations

This post is substantially the same thing as what I just posted to the SMOFS e-mail list, but not everyone on SMOFS reads this LJ and vice versa, and I found it interesting enough to add here as well.

I am subscribed to another mailing list (some of you here are on it as well) where the subject of hoax Worldcon bids came up. In response to the semi-joking, "Be careful, you might win," I chipped in, "Not if you didn’t file." This led to a series of messages about how the Worldcon site selection process works and also led to me learning something I'd not known that explains some confusion that non-American fans may have had about write-ins on a Worldcon ballot.

To set this up, let me reiterate how the Worldcon system works.

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Now this is fairly consistent with American (USA) voting practice. Every ballot I've ever cast includes the ability to vote for a write-in candidate. Usually, write-ins are jokes; however, now and then you get a serious one. I recall a serious write-in candidate for a legislative office in Northern California when I lived in Yuba City, for instance. (He didn't win.) I don't know the details, but I presume that the serious candidate filed the necessary paperwork, only after the ballot deadline.

I've been informed that in Canada (at least in many cases; nobody has completely exhaustive knowledge, of course, nor do I know ever nook and cranny of California state or American federal election law), there are no write-ins -- you are either on the ballot or you're not eligible at all, and voting for an ineligible candidate (that is, trying to write something in) can invalidate your ballot. The ballots themselves are apparently designed with no provisions for write-in candidates.

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