Is it impossible for you to imagine this year’s likely presidential nominees without thinking of a GIF of Claire Danes crying? You may be suffering from Election Malaise, and you’re not alone. Judging from the volume of #NeverTrump and #NeverClinton stories, there are at least dozens of Americans just like you.
But that doesn’t mean you need to spend a lot of time daydreaming about hypothetical third parties you could start! Those are a lot of work! There are already a handful of time-honored options for people excited about voting, if not about the candidates on display. Although many frustrated voters will probably just end up voting for one of the main candidates, here are some other alternatives for those determined not to change their mind.
1. A Third-Party Candidate, Perhaps?
People have been talking about third-party candidates so much that you’d think it was the 2016 election’s safe word — say it once and this whole uncomfortable scenario vanishes. If you’re starving for a chance to vote for someone who hasn’t been haunting your TV set for the past year, you’ve got some options. They never get many votes, and you might hear that voting for a third-party candidate is akin to taking your ballot and throwing it in an outhouse, but they are there for you if you need them, like reruns of Friends.
All voters won’t have the same options, however. Every state has its own rules for how candidates can get on the ballot, and some are easier to follow than others. Richard Winger, who edits Ballot Access News, says that Colorado has the most permissive laws. In 2008 and 2012, it broke the record for most presidential candidates on a ballot, with 16 people running. There was a candidate from the Objectivist Party, a nominee from America’s Party, and four people running with parties that had something to do with socialism. If you wanted to run for president in Colorado those years, all you needed was $500. This year, Winger says, the fee was raised to $1,000, but he doesn’t think it will deter the people “who live to see their name on a ballot.”
2. Or Maybe People From Third Parties You’ve Actually Heard Of?
The Green Party and the Libertarian Party manage to get their candidates on ballots in a majority of states, and attempt to increase their reach every year. The very conservative Constitution Party usually ends up on quite a few ballots too. Most other third-party candidates will be unique to one state, which Winger thinks is more than a little nonsensical. “You have these people running for president, and some Americans can vote for them and others can’t. That’s silly.”
3. A Write-In Candidate
If none of those third parties do it for you, or you live in a state where it’s impossible to get on the ballot, you can always vote for a write-in candidate. Becoming one usually entails a bit more than setting up a Facebook group: In a few states, the would-be president still has to fill out paperwork or get a petition signed before officials will post her name as an option in polling places. Write-in candidates are sometimes asked to provide a list of people who would serve as their Electoral College representatives, just in case they win a state.
4. Justin Bieber Or Jesus Christ
Or you can always vote for your mom. Maybe George Washington? There is a long history of Americans voting for joke candidates like Mickey Mouse, Jesus Christ, and Lizard People. We talked to a guy earlier this year who voted for his dead dog. Unfortunately, if you take this route, your vote won’t matter. Officials usually won’t even bother to count said vote, unless your imaginary would-be president of choice filed the correct paperwork.
Election workers probably won’t find your attempt at levity amusing, either. As the former Arizona elections director told Bloomberg in 2004, "My friends used to write me in for county attorney, and I used to think it was funny. [That was] until I got into the election administration. It takes time to process those." If enough people vote for a joke candidate, it can be pretty funny, though. In 2012, 4,000 people in Georgia voted for Charles Darwin. The incumbent representative who won the race had said that the theory of evolution was a lie “straight from the pit of hell.”
5. None Of These Candidates
“Nobody” or “none of the above” are also popular write-in choices, but in Nevada, voting for “None of These Candidates” has been a state-sanctioned option since 1975. The state, along with a handful of others, doesn’t even allow voters to pick write-in candidates. This option seems like a suitable compromise for those residents eager to be patriotic even when they can’t find it in their hearts to fill in a bubble next to a candidate’s name. However, voting for “None of These Candidates” won’t prevent one of those candidates from winning. Even when "None of These Candidates" comes in first place — and it has — the first runner-up who is not a ray of light shining on an empty chair gets the honor of representing an electorate that doesn’t want them. In the 2014 Democratic gubernatorial primary, more voters sided with "None of These Candidates" than any of the other eight people actually running. “None of These Candidates” has only won in primaries so far, but this election cycle has proven itself to be particularly special.