The most exciting experience you can have as a voter is the write-in. It's the only opportunity in the entire electoral process when you can actually call a shot. You get to customize your ballot.
Maybe you'll be taken off to the side and led to a small table, people in line wondering what you did wrong. Like some rebel democrat you'll scrawl a handmade mark on the ballot, an old lady holding up half a cardboard box to shield your privacy. Or maybe the poll worker says "You can't do a write-in on the new Danaher 1242 voting machine." That would be bullshit. The worker just wasn't trained properly, and you get to demand that he call the county board of elections to explain how write-ins work on the 1242.
Or maybe you just follow the menu prompts, a touch-screen keyboard appears, and you type your write-in. Each state is different.
Going to the polls, punching a button is boring. Stepping out of the ballot box and writing-in is participatory democracy at its best. And that's what it takes to vote for most Alt Prez candidates, because they usually can't clear the obstacles to get on the ballot in one state, much less 50.
Many states now make candidates register for write-in status. Sadly, the ever-popular "Mickey Mouse" never registers to meet those requirements, resulting in thousands of write-in ballots cast into vote limbo.
Race for Third Place
Remember the Reform Party in the '90s? It formed around Ross Perot after his independent campaign for President in 1992, when he took a whopping 18.9 pecent of the popular vote. And if Perot hadn't temporarily dropped out due to some bizarre squirreliness about operatives disrupting his daughter's wedding, he would have taken more votes.
Those were the days. These are not for the Reform Party, which had to rewrite its constitution rewritten by Pat Buchanan and his faction in 2000. Now the Reform Party has nominated Ted Weill as their presidential candidate, though their website says the July convention hasn't happened yet.
Weill is a manufacturer from Tyler, Miss., who has given Ralph Nader's campaign $1,000 this year. Weill's running mate, Frank McEnulty, accepted the VP honor, but also decided to keep being the presidential candidate for the New American Independent Party. Candidates who hedge their bets don't inspire much confidence.
But if elected, President Weill would:
Mandate a balanced budget
Impose term limits for Congress
Scrap the electoral college system
Require a popular vote on any federal tax increase.
Prediction: Ted Weill finishes 10th, behind a pair of socialists.
Silver Persinger of Richmond, Va., presidential candidate for the Free Party, has vowed not to accept contributions until his website gets 100,000 hits. He's still about 99,599 short, so go to votesilver.org and check out his page linking to states' voting laws.
Independent candidate for President Frank Moore of San Francisco was once singled out by Sen. Jesse Helms as an obscene performance artist funded by the NEA. Moore remains unrepentant, and offers a thoroughly un-Helmsian platform that includes slashing the military by half, providing free public mass transit 24/7/365, and legalizing drug use. With sexologist Susan Block as his VP candidate, Moore is on 25 state ballots as a write-in.
The Buck Stops
Had enough of capitalism? Gloria La Riva sure has, and as the presidential candidate of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, she's promoting good old-fashion revolutionary change. The rule of capitalism is going to be devastated by more economic distress and the PSL intends to pick up the pieces, putting them back together so "Marx's prognosis and theory of revolution in the advanced capitalist societies will be validated by the revival of revolutionary socialism in the very center of imperialism."
Home of the Brave
Chief Jack, a Mohawk Indian from Anaheim, Calif., and presidential candidate for the Native American Party, says, "The time has come for a Native American to take over the direction of the United States before the non-Natives destroy it and the rest of the world." Top priority for Chief Jack (Jacques Yves Boulerice) is hunting down illegal immigrants and herding them into Mexico.
Bait & Switch Strategy
Independent candidate Nick Farmer of Indiana has formulated a winning strategy for his run for President. But when you click on his website button for "My Strategy for Winning in 2008," you find: "I previously posted my strategy on this page but decided to remove it at this time. It would become more difficult to run if other candidates who are running adopt the same strategy."
Your Couch Candidate
Kelcey Wilson, an independent presidential candidate from San Diego, made a successful cross-country campaign trip by getting people to sign up on his website to offer their couches for him to sleep on. He also went to Las Vegas to gamble up some campaign funds, winning $500, then spending $100 of it on a steak dinner and $200 on a hotel room. Wilson promises similarly complete transparency as President.