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Votes for Sanders, Cruz, others all the same in election tally

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who is running for president in 2016.
Flickr Photo/Brookings Institution (CC BY NC ND 2.0)
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders

Voters in Washington who don't support any major presidential candidates can write in any candidate they want. That includes former candidates like Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz or average citizens.

There's been some confusion over write-in candidates in Washington. The state has a sore-loser law that says people who lose in the primary election can't be a write-in candidate. But that does not apply to the presidential race.

All write-in votes for president will be counted, including votes for candidates who lost in the presidential primary. But you may never know how many votes your write-in candidate got.

Write-in votes will be tallied as a bunch, not separated out by name, according to David Ammons at the Secretary of State's office. Most computers don’t collect the write-in names, just whether a write-in candidate was voted for.

Ammons: "But state law does say that if the whole pool of write-in voters is strong enough to collectively exceed the number the winner has already gotten, then they would write down how many each one got."

That is, they would report the specific number of votes for Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, Ben Carson and any other write-in.

Ammons said every now and then a write-in wins the race, but it's rare and has only happened in local elections.

A lot of people have registered so far as write-in presidential candidates this year: 62, the most ever in state history.