Getting Your Nickname on a Ballot
My adventure running for office with a nickname
Way, way back in December of 2021, I made the decision to run for Kewaskum Village Trustee. When I started filling out the paperwork, I quickly realized I was going to run into a slight issue: most people only know me by my nickname. There are very few who know me as “Michael Martin.” In fact, there’s a good chance you just learned that my real name is “Mike” right now.
When you’re considering running for office, it’s obviously best to use the name that people know you by. This is especially important when you have a generic name like “Mike Martin.”
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Using a Nickname on an Election Ballot
I did some digging to see if it was possible to run with a nickname or if you needed to run with your full legal name. The information was surprisingly easy to find. Wisconsin’s Declaration of Candidacy paperwork spends three whole paragraphs on the subject.
Type or print your name on the fifth line as you want it to be printed on the official ballot. You may use your full legal name, former legal surname, or any combination of first name, middle name, and initials, surname or nickname with last name.
Right there it lays out that you’re able to use your nickname with a last name. Score.
But it goes on to set a few ground rules on nicknames:
Note: The Wisconsin Elections Commission has determined that, absent of any evidence of an attempt to manipulate the electoral process, candidates are permitted to choose any form of their name, including nicknames, by which they want to appear on the ballot.
No titles are permitted. In addition, names such as “Red” or “Skip” are permitted, but names which have an apparent electoral purpose or benefit, such as “Lower taxes,” “None of the above,” or “Lower Spending” are not permitted. It is also not permissible to add nicknames in quotes or parentheses. For example, John “Jack” Jones or John (Jack) Jones are not acceptable, but John Jones, Jack Jones or John Jack Jones are acceptable.
With that, “Tax Cutter Martin” wouldn’t work, but Fuzz—like Red or Skip—is golden.
If you’re thinking of running for office and you’re not sure where to start, ask the Clerk that oversees elections in the jurisdiction in which you’re looking to run.