What do I do now?
After writing-off both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton as being presidential candidates for whom I can't vote - at least, not with a good conscience - I figured I could vote for the Libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson.
Then I watched as his candidacy sputtered and flickered out on national television when he drew a complete blank about our planet's current crisis in Syria.
Then I heard that a number of prominent evangelicals are planning on writing-in Trump's running mate, Mike Pence, for president. And I thought that would be a good idea.
Then I started doing more research on what it takes to be a write-in candidate. I knew that write-in candidates had to file with each state to be on each state's ballot, since presidential elections are run by the states, not the federal government. But I guess I figured the big-name types like Pence - and Clinton's veep choice, Tim Kaine - kinda automatically appeared like magic on the approved lists of folks whose names we voters can write-in at the last minute.
But of course, it doesn't work that way in real life. Silly me.
For one thing, seven states do not allow write-in votes for any race, presidential or otherwise. Those states are Arkansas, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, Oklahoma, and South Dakota. And in the rest of the states allowing write-in votes, their rules vary by state. In other words, it's hard to break the two-party hold on America's national politics, making the write-in vote a consolation prize at best.
Still, it's better than nothing. At least, for those of us not living in those seven states preventing it.
Basically, if you want voters to be able to write-in your name, you need to go to each state that allows write-in votes, make sure you have whatever number of supporters that state says you need to meet their definition of being a credible candidate, pay each state's registration fee (several thousand dollars, usually), and make sure you do it before their cut-off deadline. Some states allow Mickey Mouse to be written-in, while others, like Texas, require a write-in candidate to be a living human being (alive, at least, when they pay their registration fee).
So, since I live in Texas, what are my write-in choices?
I can't vote for Mickey Mouse, but I can write-in one of 13 real people, and here they are:
- Darrel Castle - Castle is representing the Constitution Party, and seems more right-wing than I'm comfortable with.
- Scott Cubbler - He mentions his church, but I don't know which church that is. His daughter used to have cancer, so he knows what its like dealing with our healthcare industry. He's served in the military and has lived in New York City, Washington DC, and Houston for his current employer, the Department of Homeland Security. He says his main goal in running for president is to foil the electoral college so neither Trump nor Hillary get all the votes they need.
- Cherunda Fox - This fifty-something white-haired black woman from Detroit has no experience a serious voter would consider worthy of presidential contention, and her website has some puzzling content. In one place, she says "there should be no racist in the White House…" but then she says "there should be no white person in the White House for now." Okay...
- Tom Hoefling - Hoefling is representing a group calling itself "America’s Party," and sounds like the type of conservative that Republicans used to adore... but not anymore, apparently.
- Laurence Kotlikoff - I think he’s a college professor, but I couldn’t learn much more about him, except that he likes to write. His website is burdened with heavy copy. Shucks, I like to write as well, but I don't think I'm presidential material.
- Jonathan Lee - I can’t find anything about him online. Not exactly a way to win votes, Jonathan!
- Michael Maturen - Maturen is representing the American Solidarity Party, which is strongly pro-life, yet fairly liberal on other issues. For example, they take their "pro-life" stance so literally, they oppose capital punishment and war.
- Evan McMullin - He's become a suddenly-popular choice for conservative Republicans, but evangelicals like me aren't convinced. He's a Mormon, which is worse than electing an atheist, since Mormonism is a cult. He's also an ex-spy, so he can't tell us how he spent the first half of his work life. To further complicate his haphazard status, McMullin started his presidential bid without a VP choice. One political pundit I researched is wondering if McMullin's presidential flash-in-the-pan bid is merely a public relations stunt for some upcoming career move.
- Monica Moorehead - Moorehead runs every four years, representing the Workers World Party... ‘nuff said, right?
- Robert Morrow - It's unclear the reason Morrow is in this race. He used to be the Republican Party Chairman of Travis County, Texas, the county that includes the state's politically-liberal capitol city, Austin. He enjoys hashing over controversial conspiracy theories, and is known for his disgusting sense of humor that kinda puts Trump in a more favorable light by comparison.
- Emidio Soltysik - Soltysik is representing the Socialist Party... so, again, enough said.
- Dale Steffes - This guy ran for mayor of Houston in 2016 but lost. That's all I could learn about him.
- Tony Valdivia - Valdivia sounds like a nice guy and an ideal neighbor. Which, of course, immediately disqualifies him for the presidency, right? He says his mission is "to improve the lives of those in my community and the nation." Which, with $5, will get you a small coffee at your local Starbucks. He lives in San Antonio and my guess is that he works for USAA, the big financial services company for military personnel and their dependents.
So, with such an underwhelming slate of choices for the write-in voter, who do you think I should pick? Overall, they're not the bag of mixed nuts I feared I'd open as I began to research each of them. And in a sense, most of them represent a fairly decent cross-section of relatively normal, outside-the-Beltway America - the type of politicians we Americans said we wanted, before nominating the likes of Hillary and Trump.
Remember, however, that if you live someplace other than Texas, these folks may or may not be available to you. The onus is on you to do your own research, a task most of us have traditionally left to the media.
Which makes the point of this entire exercise about as rewarding as any write-in vote in any state can possibly be. Which just makes this election season even more frustrating, right?
Update 10/26/16: For whatever it's worth, after praying and thinking about this, I've decided to write-in Scott Cubbler.