The TIME Person of the Year Hopefuls: Vote Malala!

TIME has floated an initial list of candidates for its Person of the Year award. The editors choose, of course, but they've also opened up polling through Dec. 12 to gather reader opinions.

Candidates include Chinese dissident Ai Weiwei, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Burma's Aung San Suu Kyi, and Russian punk rebels Pussy Riot.

Tyrants get representation, with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and North Korea's Kim Jong Un on the list. Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, who just flashed his dictator stripes, also gets a nod.

Among the political picks? Vice President Joe Biden ("His verbal flubs and foibles can make him a punch line for Republican critics and occasionally even irk his own boss"), Michael Bloomberg, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former President Bill Clinton, President Obama, Mitt Romney, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R).

Some of the left-field choices? Stephen Colbert, Undocumented Immigrants, and Sandra Fluke.

Here is how the polling is going thus far. Luckily, an especially worthwhile candidate is getting a good share of "definitely" votes.

Malala Yousafzai, the 15-year-old Enemy No. 1 of the Taliban, is recovering in a British hospital after being shot in the head by a Taliban gunman while going to school on Oct. 9. And that's exactly what she was fighting for: the right to go to school, free of fear, free to achieve whatever she wants without being under the thumb of Islamist forces.

TIME writes that Malala "has become an inspiration not only in her native Pakistan — where the culture wars over women's rights and religious diversity have taken many violent turns — but all around the globe."

"Malala is now a first name that hundreds of thousands of people know. But in a way, hers is an even more moving story, because the saga is not just of a brave young girl but also of a father willing to risk local opprobrium to raise his daughter — not a son — as a proud example for the world."