Write-In Candidates

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Write-In Candidate Information (PDF)

1. General Information

  • Candidates must file a Certificate of Candidacy with the appropriate State or local election office depending on the office sought.
  • A Statement of Organization to form an authorized candidate campaign committee must accompany the Certificate of Candidacy (unless the candidate is already associated with a candidate committee or if running for federal office).
  • Candidates must file a financial disclosure statement in accordance with State or local law (if applicable for that office) prior to or at the time of filing the Certificate of Candidacy.
  • A filing fee is not required for a write-in candidate.
  • The candidate may file the Certificate of Candidacy by mail. All required documents should be mailed together. It is important to note, the Certificate of Candidacy and the Financial Disclosure Statement must be notarized for State office.

Recommendation: It is recommended that a write-in candidate file as early as possible in order to appear on various candidate lists including the write-in candidate list on the specimen ballots. Additionally, early filing enables the candidate the option to designate challengers and watcher at the polling place.

The Certificate of Candidacy may be filed in person. If filed in person, the candidate must provide identification (preferably a driver's license or official State ID).

2. Deadline – Thursday, October 31, 2018 by 5:00p.m.

  • Write-in candidates must file no later than the 7th day before the start of early voting for the General Election. If mailed, the appropriate election office must receive the Certificate of Candidacy and all requisite documents by the deadline. Timely postmarked or faxed copies will not be accepted. Original signatures are required. In no case will a filing be accepted later than 5:00 P.M. on the Wednesday before the 7th day before the start of early voting for the General Election.
  • However, if the write-in candidate or the authorized candidate campaign committee makes expenditures that are equal to or greater than $51 in the promotion of the candidate, then the Certificate of Candidacy must be file no later than 7 days after the $51 threshold is exceeded.

3. Campaign Finance Entity - Required

  • Each write-in candidate must file a Statement of Organization to form an authorized candidate campaign committee except for federal Write-in candidates.
  • The authorized candidate campaign committee must be formed regardless of whether the candidate plans to have any financial activity. The candidate committee is required to file campaign finance reports periodically during the election year.
  • Candidates who do not plan to have campaign finance activity greater than $1,000 may file an Affidavit of Limited Contributions and Expenditures in lieu of a detailed campaign finance report. The Affidavit may be Efiled on this site. The Affidavit must be filed for every reporting period. Only when the Affidavit is marked final will the filing obligations end. It is the personal responsibility and liability of the Chairman and Treasurer of the committee to file the reports or Affidavit. The maximum late fee penalty is $250 per report.
  • Prior to the campaign finance report filing deadline, the officers of the committee and the candidate will receive a pre-report notice (Blue postcard) in the mail. If you believe the notice was sent in error, please contact The State Board of Elections immediately, otherwise late fees will accrue.

Note: State's Attorney, Sheriff, Register of Wills, and Clerk of the Circuit Court are now required to electronically submit their financial disclosure statements. 
Please visit the Maryland State Ethics Commission website. Otherwise download the Financial Disclosure Form.

4. Voting

In a general election, a voter can cast a write-in vote for a candidate whose name does not appear on the ballot.

To cast a write-in vote on a paper ballot:

  • Use a black pen and:
    • Fill in the oval to the left of the Write-in line for the contest in which you wish to cast a write-in vote.
    • Write the candidate’s first and last name on the write-in line next to the filled-in oval.
  • Any abbreviation, misspelling, or minor variation in the form of the name of a candidate shall be disregarded in determining the validity of the write-in vote as long as the intended candidate can be determined. Writing the last name only will constitute a valid vote, unless there is more than one candidate with the same last name.
  • Writing in the name of the candidate for President or Vice President will be counted as a vote for the joint office.
  • Candidates may give out cards containing a diagram and instructions, including how to spell the candidate's name. Applying stickers or labels to the ballot with the write-in candidate's name is not permitted.
  • If you write in a candidate’s name and change your mind, you will need a new ballot. If you are voting during early voting or on election day, ask an election judge for a new ballot. If you have an absentee ballot, contact your local board of elections and ask for a new ballot.
  • Failure to fill in the oval for a write-in will not invalidate the vote for that candidate.

To cast a write-in vote on the audio ballot:

  • Follow the instructions and use the key pad to select “Write-in.”
  • Use the keypad to enter, change and confirm each letter as you enter a write-in candidate’s name.
  • After entering a write-in candidate’s name, follow the instructions to continue voting.
  • Follow the instructions to change a write-in vote before casting your ballot.

Canvassing Write-in Votes

  • Each local board of elections will canvass the write-in votes for every filed write-in candidate.
  • Initially, each local board of elections will report all write-in votes as one total. During the 10-day canvassing period, each local board of elections will manually review all write-in votes and tally write-in votes for each filed write-in candidate.
  • Before a local board of elections certifies election results, the number of write-in votes cast for each write-in candidate will be reported individually.