Winning as a write-in candidate in Illinois is the same as any other race – get one vote more than your opponent.
For Crystal Lake Mayor Haig Haleblian, who is running unopposed as a write-in candidate in the upcoming April 4 election, it means he needs just one vote to secure reelection, McHenry County Clerk Joe Tirio said.
“He can walk in today and vote for himself and pick up his signs,” Tirio said. “The election’s over.”
In McHenry County, 13 candidates are competing as write-ins, according to the McHenry County Clerk’s Office candidates list. Of those, four, including Haleblian, are running uncontested.
The others are Scott Migaldi running for a two-year term on the Cary Area Public Library board, Laura Vanderploeg running for a two-year term on the Fox River Grove School District 3 Board and Brian Ahrens for a two-year term as a Hebron-Alden-Greenwood Fire Protection District trustee.
A candidate must have filed to run as a write-in candidate for votes for them to count, Illinois State Board of Elections spokesperson Matt Dietrich said.
That means Haleblian, Migaldi, Vanderploeg and Ahrens are the only eligible people to receive votes in their respective races, Dietrich said.
He can walk in today and vote for himself and pick up his signs. The election’s over.— McHenry County Clerk Joe Tirio on Crystal Lake Mayor Haig Haleblian running as an uncontested write-in candidate
Haleblian filed to run for office in November but had his candidacy challenged because of missing paperwork. Instead of fighting it, he admitted the mistake and opted to withdraw and file as a write-in candidate.
In the months since, Haleblian said he’s received inconsistent information on some things, including how many votes might be needed for him to win.
Although most of the questions have been cleared up, Haleblian said Friday that he’s still stressed about the race.
“I’ve probably worked as hard on this campaign as I would have another one,” Haleblian said. “I want people to know I really want this position.”
Haleblian said that for him, some questions still remain, such as what does and doesn’t count if someone misspells his name.
If that were to happen, it’s left up to the election judge to determine what the intent of the vote was, Tirio said.
For the first time in my life I’m glad my name isn’t John Smith. Such a unique name … has played to my advantage in this race.— Crystal Lake Mayor Haig Haleblian
A name does not have to be spelled correctly to count. Election judges will have a list of write-in candidates that voters can request; the list isn’t posted publicly at polling sites.
Haleblian sees correct spelling not being required as helping him, he said. He feels as long as voters are close, it will be easy to tell what they meant.
“For the first time in my life, I’m glad my name isn’t John Smith,” he said. “Such a unique name … has played to my advantage in this race.”
The 13 write-in candidates in McHenry County will not know their results the night of the election, Tirio said. Those numbers are tallied manually, meaning they won’t show up with other ballot totals.
Tirio said those results will be posted in seven to 10 days after the election.
For Haleblian, his goal is to get at least the same amount of votes he got when he first ran in 2021, when he received more than 1,800 votes.
He said he feels his decision to withdraw his candidacy and go the write-in route brought with it more transparency.
“I think people appreciated the fact that in today’s political climate, where people are fighting, I didn’t go down that road,” he said. “I’ve had more sign requests and more donations than I’ve ever had. It’s been very humbling and gratifying.”