Houses pushes repeal of unconstitutional write-in candidate requirement

write in vote

Florida could soon repeal a requirement that says a write-in candidate must reside in the district they seek to represent at the time they qualify to run.

The proposal was unanimously approved by the Florida House on Friday in large because the Florida Supreme Court invalidated the requirement in 2016. The ruling said the mandate imposed different limitation on the candidacy than those stated under the state constitution.

“It is not effective anymore, but we still need to get it out of the book,” said state Rep. Joseph Geller, who sponsored the bill.

The state constitution requires a candidate to reside in the district they seek to represent at the time of election or when a candidate assumes office — not at the time of qualification.

In Florida, no write-in candidate has ever won elected office. But parties and candidates can sometimes push a political novice to run as a write-in candidate as a tactic to benefit an incumbent and block full voter participation.

Primary contests in the state are open to all voters if candidates from other parties do not qualify to run. Election officials, however, have determined that any qualified write-in candidate can make it a closed primary election. This would mean only voters who are registered members of political parties may vote for respective party candidates.

The House bill sailed through its two committee assignments in the chamber, with panels voting unanimously in support. The fate of the companion bill in the Senate is still uncertain, with three committee stops remaining before it can head to the floor.

Ana Ceballos

Ana covers politics and policy Before joining the News Service of Florida she wrote for the Naples Daily News and was the legislative relief reporter for The Associated Press and covered policy issues impacting immigration, the environment, criminal justice and social welfare in Florida. She holds a B.A. in journalism from San Diego State University. After graduating in 2014, she worked as a criminal justice reporter for the Monterey Herald and the Monterey County Weekly. She has also freelanced for The Washington Post at the U.S.-Mexico border covering crime in the border city of Tijuana, where she grew up. Ana is fluent in Spanish and has intermediate proficiency in Portuguese.


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