How to be a write-in candidate

Filing Period: November General Election: Sept. 9 – Oct. 22 (E-57 to E-14)

Write-In Procedure (Elections Code § 8600 – 8605)

Persons who did not file a Declaration of Candidacy and fulfill their nomination requirements to place their name on the ballot may run for office as a write‑in candidate.  Write‑in votes will be counted and certified in the Statement of Vote only for qualified write‑in candidates who file the required forms with the Elections Department no later than 14 days prior to Election Day. 

Voters may write‑in any person they wish for any office regardless of whether the person has qualified or not.  However, the votes will only be tabulated for qualified write-in candidates.

To qualify as a write‑in candidate, a person must file with the County Clerk/Elections Department the following documents:

  • A “Statement of Write‑in Candidacy” which shall contain the candidate's name, residence address, a declaration stating that he or she is a write‑in candidate, the title of the office for which he or she is running and the date of the election.

No person whose name has been written in upon a ballot for an office at the direct primary may have his or her name placed upon the ballot as a candidate for that office for the ensuing general election unless one of the following is applicable:

(a) At that direct primary he or she received for a partisan office votes equal in number to 1 percent of all votes cast for the office at the last preceding general election at which the office was filled. In the case of an office that has not appeared on the ballot since its creation, the requisite number of votes shall equal 1 percent of the number of all votes cast for the office that had the least number of votes in the most recent general election in the jurisdiction in which the write-in candidate is seeking office.

(b) He or she is an independent nominee for a partisan office (Section 8300 et. al).

(c) At that direct primary he or she received for a voter-nominated office the highest number of votes cast for that office or the second highest number of votes cast for that office, except as provided by subdivision (b) of Section 8142 or Section 8807.  (Elections Code § 8605)

Write‑in candidates are subject to the same requirements as other candidates with regard to disclosure of economic interests and campaign disclosure.  (Gov. Code §82007; Elections Code §305)

The Elections Department will provide polling places with a list of qualified write‑in candidates.

No Write-In Candidates for Voter-Nominated Offices

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a person may not be a write-in candidate at the general election for a voter-nominated office.  (Elections Code §8606)

Offices Omitted From Ballot

Prospective write‑in candidates should note that write‑in candidacy is possible only if the office appears on the ballot. 

Judicial Office Write-Ins

Incumbent judges do not appear on the ballot in the primary and the general. However, the law allows for a write-in campaign to be conducted if a petition indicating that a write-in campaign will be conducted against an incumbent Superior Court Judge is filed by the 83rd day before the election, August 17. The petition must be signed by 0.1% of the registered voters qualified to vote on the office, provided that the petition contain at least 100 but no more than 600 signatures. (Elections Code §8203(b))