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If you live in New York, you have 32 alternatives to Clinton and Trump

When it comes to campaign promises that are bold and innovative, even revolutionary, Zoltan Istvan Gyurko stands alone.

What other candidate for president is advocating government-supported immortality, or a new bill of rights for the human-like robots and cyborgs of the future?

Certainly not Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.

And if Gyurko is not your kind of guy, how about Michael Ingbar and his slogan, "Making America Dance Again."

Ingbar, an art dealer and gallery owner in Manhattan, is also running for president, one of 32 declared write-in candidates in New York.

"If people could dance with each other, there would be a lot more peace in the world," Ingbar says.

With the election only a day away, undecided voters are running out of time — and maybe options — and that is where Ingbar, Gyurko and other write-in candidates see an opportunity.

They also make up one of the largest, if not the largest, pools of write-in candidates to formally declare for president in New York, one more indication that voters want an alternative to Trump and Clinton.

"A lot of people have told me they view it as an act of courage," says Jason Mutford, a math and technology teacher at an all-boys charter high school in Albany.

Like a lot of candidates who went through the process to formally declare for president, Mutford looked around at the nominees, both major and minor party, and couldn't find anyone he felt comfortable with.

That's when he decided to run.

The same is true of The Beard.

Benjamin Hartnell (Courtesy of Benjamin Hartnell)

Benjamin Hartnell (Courtesy of Benjamin Hartnell)

"We've gotten used to accepting what the two major parties put out there," says Ben Hartnell, a high school history teacher in Ohio.

Instead of complaining about the choices, Hartnell, who stands 6-foot-4 and sports a ZZ Top-like growth on his chin, decided to set an example by running.

He calls his campaign a "phenomenal teaching moment" and says his students, most of them 14- and 15-year olds, have been the driving force behind his ability to gain write-in access to ballots in 26 states, including New York.

On the campaign trail, he often appears in costume and his website, electthebeard.com, is chock full of photos of Hartnell in red, white and blue, looking like a modern day Uncle Sam.

Deep down, he knows his campaign is destined to fall short, but he admits to wondering at times, what if?

"I'm guilty of it," he says "What, if on Election Day, I woke up and I was president?"

Like Hartnell, most of the candidates went into this knowing their chances of beating Trump and Clinton are nonexistent.

In the last election four years ago, Ross C. Anderson, the former mayor of Salt Lake City, was the leading write-in candidate in New York. His grand total was 212 votes, 21 of them cast in Erie County.

But this year is different, a year unlike any other, the candidates will tell you. And that's why the field ranges from 16-year old Will Connolly, a high school student in Greenville, just south of Albany, to Bob Buchanan, a retired naval officer in Virginia.

"People think I'm crazy, especially my family," says Buchanan. "I know my chances are slim to none, but you have to make the effort."

Buchanan's motivation for running is evident in his website – whatsmyoption.com – and his very public stance as a middle class, common man alternative to Trump and Clinton.

"I'm a regular American," he says. "I'm not rich and I don't have a big budget to travel across the country."

What Buchanan does have is the ability to tally votes in New York. With that in mind, he campaigned here three weeks ago, a day-long tour that included a visit with students from the University at Albany.

Michael Ingbar, one of your write-in choices for president this Election Day. (Photo courtesy of Millicent Hathaway)

Michael Ingbar, one of your write-in choices for president this Election Day. (Photo courtesy of Millicent Hathaway)

Anyone can write in a candidate for office and it's not unusual for voters, often as a protest, to write in their favorite cartoon character or sports hero. The problem is those votes aren't counted unless the cartoon character or sports hero has filed the necessary paperwork to be a "declared" write-in candidate.

"You can't write in Mickey Mouse because Mickey Mouse didn't declare," says Norman P. Green, Democratic Elections Commissioner in Chautauqua County.

In New York, one of 41 states that allows write-in candidates for president, the process is relatively simple. The only requirement is a certificate of candidacy with the names of the presidential  and vice-presidential candidates, and their New York-based electors.

Hartnell, the Ohio history teacher, relied on a former student who now lives in New York to serve as his elector.

While the unusually large number of write-in candidates is seen as an indication of voter frustration with Clinton and Trump, it's unclear if that frustration will translate into more support among rank-and-file voters.

Elections officials are skeptical and point to the historically low vote totals for write-in candidates, usually less than one percent of the overall tally.

"If they're doing anything, they're going to the Green Party or Libertarian Party or another of the alternative parties," Ralph Mohr, Republican Elections Commissioner in Erie County, says of voters looking for another choice.

Gloria La Riva and Darrell Castle are hoping Mohr is at least half wrong. Both are write-in candidates but they also represent political parties or movements that have been around for years.

GloriaLaRiva4President.com)

Glorida La Riva is running on a socialist platform. (GloriaLaRiva4President.com)

La Riva, a California-based union leader and anti-war activist, is running on a socialist platform that focuses on issues such as income inequality, police brutality and immigrant rights.

"People are starting to realize that neither Trump nor Clinton will solve their problems," La Riva says. "They'll only make things worse."

Castle, a lawyer in Memphis, Tenn., is one of the founders of the Constitution Party, an organization that got its start in 1992 and is rooted in the belief that elected officials routinely ignore the Constitution and the limits it places on their power.

"I believe in all my heart in its principles and platform," he says of the party. "In other words, I have skin in the game."

A former national vice-chairman of the party, Castle portrays himself as a true conservative, an alternative to both Trump and Clinton. Among other things, he wants to shut down the Federal Reserve Bank and withdraw from the United Nations.

Unlike La Riva or Castle, Willie Carter points to a higher authority as his motivation for seeking the White House.

"The lord doesn't take no for an answer," says Carter, a retired aircraft mechanic and Sunday school teacher in Texas. "How do you run from that much power?"

This is Carter's 8th campaign for president, each one a write-in effort and each one stressing his spiritual approach to politics. He says the lord came to him nearly 40 years ago and told him he was being "conditioned" for the nation's top job.

Istvan Zoltan is running for president. (Photo courtesy of Rachel Lyn)

Istvan Zoltan is running for president. (Photo courtesy of Rachel Lyn)

On the other side of the spectrum is Gyurko, the self-described candidate of the Transhumanist Party. At the heart of his campaign is the belief that science and technology can solve most of the word's problems.

Gyurko also believes the country is 15-to-20 years away from erasing human death and aging, and says the nation is in need of a Transhumanist bill of rights requiring government support of longer lifespans and higher standards of living.

"We think everyone in the 21st century should have that right," he says. "We need a bill of rights that addresses those future scientific questions."

To hear Gyurko talk, Transhumanism is the next emerging movement, much like environmentalism 30 years ago. He's hoping New York voters are futuristic enough to sign on and send a message of support Tuesday.

He also wants you to spell his name right.

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