The situation in Alaska, where Sen. Lisa Murkowski says she'll decide by Friday whether to run a write-in campaign to keep her seat, has led some people to wonder whether a write-in candidate might suddenly emerge in Illinois.
The short answer comes from Dan White, executive director of the Illinois State Board of Elections: No.
Murkowski is pondering a write-in race because she lost to little-known lawyer Joe Miller, who was backed by Sarah Palin and the Tea Party Express, in that state's Aug. 24 Republican primary. It's the only way Murkowski can keep her seat in the U.S. Senate.
That could work in Alaska. But in Illinois, you can't run as a write-in candidate unless you file a declaration of intent 61 or more days before the election. This year, that deadline fell on Sept. 2.
Most voters probably don't realize this, but election judges here do have lists of write-in candidates who have filed declarations. You can vote for one of them even on the new optical scan or touch screen machines. But if a voter writes in the name of someone not on the list, that vote just goes into the ozone. It won't count.
Another barrier for statewide write-in candidates in Illinois is that a candidate must file a declaration with every election jurisdiction, of which there are 110 in the state, White said. If a candidate fails to file in a particular jurisdiction, none of the write-in votes from that jurisdiction will be tallied.
It's not easy to run a statewide write-in campaign.
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