Pennsylvania Write-In Law Dangerously Arcane

by | Nov 4, 2004

Pittsburgh newspaper columnist Dimitri Vassilaros recently wrote:

Do not bother to write in a vote for a presidential candidate in Pennsylvania on Nov. 2. The commonwealth’s system of handling such votes is so hideous, it confuses, misleads and disenfranchises voters.

It is so dysfunctional that, for your write-in vote to be counted properly, you must not write-in the name of your candidate.


To actually vote for Nader, you must write in the names of his 21 electors and spell them correctly, according to the state. If you only write your candidate’s name, you only are voting for one elector. Your vote would be worth 1/21 of one for Bush or Kerry.

The Pennsylvania Department of State oversees elections. It knows it is almost impossible to cast a legitimate presidential write-in vote. But it simply passes the buck to county elections officials who usually are clueless about the write-in rules.