Finding the Write Candidate

"Okay, one last time: M-X-Y-Z..."

Now that noted judicial activist Antonin Scalia has torpedoed the state GOP's efforts to replace Tom DeLay on the ballot this fall, the Republicans say they will pick one individual who will run as a write-in candidate. (Sugar Land mayor David Wallace has already tossed his hat, er, pen, in the ring.) There'll be some jockeying for the position, not so much because that candidate has a good chance of winning — a write-in candidacy can be tough — but because it would set them up for 2008.

But if you're going to pick a write-in candidate, shouldn't you pick someone whose name is easy to write? How many different ways can voters spell Shelley Sekula-Gibbs? And will each spelling have to be perfect, or can it be challenged is someone writes in an "a" that looks like an "e"?

Fear not, says Scott Haywood of Texas' Secretary of State office.

The GOP's person will be an "official" write-in candidate, which means he or she will pay a $3,125 filing fee or submit 500 voter signatures. And those types of write-in candidates (as opposed to, say, folks writing in "Jenna Jameson") get special treatment.

Their names will be listed in each voting booth, even if they're not on the actual ballot, so it should be relatively easy to copy. And the copying doesn't have to be perfect.

"The vote would be counted if election officials can tell the voter's intent," says Haywood. "So if you misspell by a couple of letters, it would still count."

Still, among those who probably shouldn't consider moving to Sugar Land and filing would be Notre Dame receiver Jeff Samardzija, Poland soccer player Marcin Baszczynski or Superman foe Mr. Mxyzptlk. We're guessing Mr. T, however, should have no problem. -- Richard Connelly

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