Things started getting weird on the morning of August 5, 2014, when I innocently returned a phone call from my friend Bill. It was primary election day, and Bill had called to discuss the statewide ballot Proposal 1, which was confusing even to many political junkies.

Near the end of our conversation, Bill casually mentioned that he was a write-in candidate to be a Democratic precinct delegate. I was surprised, because while Bill is intelligent and politically aware, he had no website, no PAC, and not even any campaign promises that could be broken.

It turned out his candidacy was just a day old. Tad, a mutual friend and coworker who is a tireless political organizer, had corralled Bill and told him that there were no names on the ballot for that position in his precinct. All Bill had to do was submit a form to become a valid write-in candidate. Tad is probably the most trustworthy person I know, so I could see why Bill would consider doing such a thing at the last minute.

I asked Bill if he had plans for his campaign during the twelve hours that remained until the polls closed. He said he would vote for himself, he had his daughter’s vote, and he was planning to talk to a handful of others that morning. With no known competition, that might be enough to get him elected. I also asked Bill what kind of Democratic delegate he was running for–national, state, county, city?

Bill didn’t know, but he was pretty sure Tad would know. We both took some comfort in the thought that Tad would know what it all meant if, in fact, Bill was elected.

As I drove to work, I felt very glad that Tad hadn’t sucked me into this.

When I arrived at work, the phone rang. It was Tad. He told me he was planning to drop off a form that I could use to become a write-in candidate for Democratic delegate in my own precinct.

I started laughing and asked, “Like Bill?”–and he said, “Yes, just like Bill … you just have to hand in the form before the polls close.”

It turns out that just writing someone’s name on a ballot doesn’t make them a candidate. Election officials only count write-in votes if you submit a form declaring that you really want to be a write-in candidate. Tad dropped off the form and I threw it on the floor next to my briefcase.

It was a busy day, and I didn’t look at it until 5:30 pm. I then made the biggest decision of my campaign–I decided to go for it. I filled out the form, which explained surprisingly little about the position.

On the way to the polling station, I stopped at a grocery store. This was my second-biggest campaign decision, as I could instead have used those fifteen minutes to kick-start my campaign by calling or emailing my wife and a couple of neighbors. But grapes were on sale, and I really like grapes.

I arrived at the polling site at about 6:30 p.m. The election officials were surprised by the form, but they looked it over and filed it away. My faith in Tad seemed justified, and it appeared that I might really be a valid write-in candidate. A combination of fond memories of high school civics lessons and adrenaline kicked in, and fate then presented me with an opportunity to begin my campaign–a neighbor walked into the polling station. I said hello, and whispered, “If you are voting in the Democratic primary, please write me in for Democratic delegate.”

I knew I was breaking the law by campaigning at a polling station. I also had no idea whether he would be voting in the Democratic or Republican primary, and, most importantly, I still didn’t know the precise name of the position I was running for. Gathering my wits, I whispered, “Just write Jeffrey A. Alson on the open line for the last race on the ballot.” I think my neighbor now wished that he had voted earlier in the day.

This was followed by the most embarrassing moment of my campaign. As I voted the Democratic column of my own ballot, I momentarily forgot that I was a candidate myself. Seeing County Precinct Delegate at the bottom–finally, I knew what I was running for!–I triumphantly wrote my name in–but by mistake in the Republican column.

I sheepishly approached the election workers and asked for a new ballot. This time I nailed it–I voted for myself in the right place. I now knew that I had one vote, and maybe two. Momentum seemed to be on my side.

I arrived home around 7 p.m. I was now fully committed to the campaign. I looked to see if there were any neighbors walking on the street whom I could lobby. No. I asked my wife if she had voted. She had. Darn, I thought to myself, I would have had a good shot at getting her vote. So I realized that I was going to end up with just one or two votes.

I woke up the next morning and turned on NPR for election results. No mention of the Democratic county precinct delegate results, so I looked them up on the county website. Of the 525 ballots cast in my precinct, there were seven write-ins for Democratic county precinct delegate. I then called the city clerk’s office and found out that I had indeed won my write-in campaign, with a grand total of two votes.

Bill’s write-in campaign in his precinct was also successful. Ironically, however, Tad lost his own race , even though he was on his precinct’s ballot and received something like 100 votes, fifty times my own total. Apparently the voters in his precinct really care about precinct delegate.

On the Saturday following the election, Tad, Bill, and I went to the Democratic county convention. They asked that all new precinct delegates stand, and as I did I was glad that they did not ask me for any anecdotes from my campaign or how many votes I received.

No big decisions were made at the convention.Tad was recruiting people mainly to get us more politically involved. Recent events suggest that Tad knew what he was doing after all–the victorious Sanders campaign in Michigan and the specter of a Trump presidency are sparking renewed interest in Democratic Party precinct organizing. And I have decided to run for reelection.

I conclude with several lessons for future write-in candidates. Know and memorize what race you are running for–it’s the least you can do. Tell others about your write-in candidacy–it really does increase the likelihood of getting more votes. Make sure you correctly write your own name on the ballot–it guarantees you at least one vote, which may be enough to win. And spend more time on your campaign prior to the election than on telling people about it afterwards–even if the latter is more fun.