Sunday, March 12, 2017

Fighting Chance to End FL Write-In Abuses

Opponents of Florida's Write-in Provision now have something tangible to support.

The deadline to file Bills in the 2017 Legislature was noon Tuesday, the first day of the session. A Republican in the Florida House introduced legislation to close this egregious loophole in State Elections Law.

House Bill 1381, filed by State Rep. Danny Burgess (R-Zephyrhills), is only half a page long, but it packs a political punch. If approved by Lawmakers and signed by Gov. Rick Scott, HB 1381 would end 17 years of Voter frustration and disenfranchisement at the polls.

HB 1381 would keep Primaries Open to all Qualified Voters regardless of the presence of a Write-In Candidate.

"If a primary election would, if not for the presence of one or more write-in candidates, be open to all qualified electors pursuant ... to the state Constitution, the primary election shall be open to all qualified electors," the proposal states.

Write-In Candidates still would be allowed to run, but would no longer Close Primary Elections.

In this scenario, shadow Candidates would all but disappear, because their real objective was NOT to Win Elections, but to shut out large Blocs of Voters. The vast Majority of Write-Ins don't Campaign, articulate their Views, or attend Political Forums. Bereft of the opportunity to create Political havoc, Write-In Candidates would lose their incentive to file.

Currently, all Voters are allowed to cast Ballots in a Primary Election when Candidates have no opposition outside the Party. However, the Primary is closed if a Write-In Candidate files to run in the General Election. In 2016, Write-Ins Closed Primary Elections in 20 State House and Senate Races in Florida, denying 1.6 million Voters the opportunity to cast Ballots. Also last year, write-In Candidates Closed dozens of County Primary Elections across the State, including four on the Treasure Coast.

Despite the prevalence of Write-In Candidates every two years, none has ever won an Election in Florida.

What kind of an elections system invests so much authority in one individual, whose name doesn't even appear on the ballot? Answer: a Flawed System.

Legislative proposals have been introduced in recent years to Close the Loophole. One Bill would have required Write-Ins to declare a Party Affiliation, forcing them to run in the Primary Election, not the General Election. Another would have required write-In Candidates to pay a Filing Fee or gather Signatures to Run, just as legitimate Candidates are required to do.

An apathetic Legislature killed both Proposals.

Support is growing to end the Write-In Provision. Rich Campbell, Opinion Writer and Member of the Treasure Coast Newspapers Editorial Board, delivered almost 1,400 Letters from readers to Sen. Joe Negron's office in Palm City. The Letters urge Lawmakers to close the Loophole.

Martin County Commissioners voted unanimously to draft a Resolution asking Members of the Treasure Coast Legislative Delegation to support Legislation to end the Write-In Provision. If it adopts such a Resolution, the Martin County Commission would join the St. Augustine City Commission in voicing opposition to the Loophole.

In December 2016, St. Augustine Commissioners passed a Resolution urging Lawmakers "to make write-in candidates more accountable."

Closing the loophole remains a long shot. With no Companion Bill filed by the deadline in the Florida Senate, HB 1381 faces a steep climb. That said, frustrated Voters at least have a fighting chance to end the abuses.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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richardwinger said...

I don't expect Florida legislators to understand recent US Supreme Court decisions, but Mike Drucker is very well-informed about that subject, so I am surprised he doesn't point out that the US Supreme Court has already ruled that it is unconstitutional for government to force political parties to let members of other parties help choose their nominees. The case is California Democratic Party v Jones, from 2000. It invalidated the blanket primary in California because it forced parties to have nominees that were chosen by registered members of other parties.

Therefore, the part of the Florida Constitution saying when a single party is the only one with any candidates running, all voters must be allowed to vote in its primary, is unconstitutional. It doesn't matter whether write-in candidates are treated as though they didn't exist or not. The write-in "loophole" completely misses the point. The press in Florida just doesn't do its research.

mhdrucker said...

I am getting lazy about this, as I usually add my idea of separate ballots. One for party members to select their party officials, county and state committee members. And the other for local, state, and congressional candidates for all voters.