A stand-up comedian, a retired postal worker and a suburban property manager who wanted Bernie Sanders as a running mate are among the 52 people who have officially registered as write-in candidates for U.S. president in Maryland.
Maryland State Board of Elections records show a 60 percent spike in registered presidential write-in candidates in the 2016 election. The candidates include citizens from several states and a handful from the Washington, D.C., suburbs in Maryland.
Though the quantity of write-in candidates is highly unlikely to impact the outcome of the presidential race in Maryland, the increase is significant and creating extra work for employees of the State Board of Elections.
Several of the candidates told News4 they were inspired to run for the White House because of dissatisfaction with the federal government or the other candidates on the ballot.
Research scientist Dr. JJ Vogel-Walcutt, an officially registered write-in candidate from Orlando, Florida, said education is a top issue in her platform.
“I am like a trainer you might use in the gym but for your brain,” she said.
Her husband, Chris, is listed as her vice-presidential running mate. Her campaign website offers sales of coffee mugs reading “I love America” and high-heels colored with an image of the American flag.
Chris Jackson, a comic from Mitchellville, Maryland, who refers to herself as “Sistah Soldjah,” is also officially registered as a presidential candidate. When asked for her top campaign issue, Jackson responded “common sense.” She said her running mate would be someone named “Missy Thang, because she doesn't miss a thing.”
Other official candidates include Martin Carlisle, a college professor from Pennsylvania who said he is running for president to restore civility to government. Carlisle told News4 he’s chosen a math professor from the University of North Texas as a running mate.
Retired U.S. Postal Service employee Richard Duncan of Ohio said his platform includes 10-year term limits for members of Congress to prevent government officials from being beholden to the wealthy.
Michael Puskar, a property manager from Gaithersburg, Maryland, said he officially registered as a write-in candidate because he wants a working class citizen to serve as president.
“As for a veep, I would have liked Bernie Sanders simply for a political edge," Puskar said. “All the write-ins he would have had, plus my filing in other states, and the simple fact of his popularity, might have given (us) a shear victory and history in the making.”
Michael Maturen, a sales professional from northern Michigan, has chosen a running mate from Texas. Maturen said his platform includes “creating local economies.”
Laurence Kotlikoff, an economics professor from Boston, said growing debt and the threat of ISIS are his primary campaign issues.
House painter Joe Schriner said he is running as a concerned Midwestern parent "who doesn't want his kids, or anyone's kids, inheriting a world of abortion, climate change chaos, the nexus of unending terrorism and war, abject poverty, an astronomical national debt."
Ending abortion is his primary issue.
"With 60 million abortions to date in America, we are living in a modern-day Holocaust unparalleled in the history of mankind, and as president, I would regularly stand in solidarity with people protesting abortion on the streets in order to create a climate similar to what was created in the South to end segregation," he said. "It was those kinds of protests that finally drove the legislation to stop segregation, and it would be the same with abortion."
Flight attendant Mary Thomas first had the idea to run as a write-in candidate in 2012 before she was old enough to run when she saw Santa Claus as a write-in candidate.
"And naturally, my next thought was, well, if Santa Claus can get his name on the ballot, then why can't I?" she said.
She said her goal now is to reach voters dissatisfied with the major party candidates.
In 2012, Maryland had only 32 write-in candidates. They included former Rep. Virgil Goode (R-Va.), TV star Roseanne Barr and a person listed officially as “Santa Claus.”
The deadline for registering as a write-in candidate for office in Maryland was 5 p.m. Tuesday. Filing fees were not required, but state law mandated all official candidates file a “certificate of candidacy” with the Maryland board of elections.
Vogul-Walcutt has posted instructions on how to cast a write-in vote on her campaign website, including guidance on how to spell her name.
In August, Maryland State Board of Elections Assistant Administrator Donna Duncan said the electronic voting systems used in prior elections made it easier for election officials to collect the names of write-in candidates. With the return of the paper ballots, the state’s records would include a spreadsheet in which images of cast ballots are stored, Duncan said. Those images will include the handwritten names of write-in choices.
According to records posted by the state board of elections, local vote canvassers will officially tally all votes received by officially registered write-in candidates.