A number of people sent me a link this week to the Action Two News story about how ballots with write-in candidates in the race for President "won't be counted". It was usually followed with a "See, you are just wasting your vote!"--as most everyone knows that I voted for the person that I actually want to be President--Paul Ryan--and then Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse for Vice President. The message senders are actually getting tripped up by the headline on the story. My vote will be counted by the machine--the clerks just won't be going through the pile tallying the exact number of votes each write-in candidate gets.
One number I will be looking for on Election Night is the difference between the number of ballots cast--and the total number of votes for the listed Presidential candidates. I expect that we will see the largest gap between those two totals than for any election in years--as plenty of people will decide to either write in actual viable candidates (whether they are declared or not)--or they just choose to leave that race blank and vote for everything else down ballot.
We have it brow-beaten into us that "It's a two party system. You have to vote for one of us" and that has completely changed the way we think about voting. Fewer people say "I voted for him or her because he or she stands for everything that I stand for"--while more and more people justify their vote with "I just didn't want the other guy or gal to win". That is what I consider to be "referendum voting"--where it may as well be a simple yes or no on the ballot--and you don't actually have to be "for" anything.
And that is what write-in voting or leaving the race blank on the ballot will show: that you actually support and believe in something--those beliefs and values just aren't on the ballot this time around. So when the next President is mired in controversy for something stupid that was said--or for some law that was ignored--you don't have to make excuses for the oval you filled in next week because you thought there wasn't any other option.