It just got easier to be a write-in candidate in Florida.
On Friday, a Leon County judge struck down a state law requiring write-in candidates to live in the district where they are running for office.
The ruling may seem inconsequential, considering no write-in candidate has ever won an election in Florida. But it could have a profound impact on the state’s quirky election system.
In Florida, write-in candidates have a unique power. If all of the candidates in a primary election are from a single political party — meaning the winner of the primary will be the office-holder — all voters can participate regardless of their party affiliation. That changes if a write-in candidate enters the race. Write-in candidates close the primary election to independent voters and members of the other party. As a result, they have become a popular tool to limit voter turnout.
"In almost every case, the write-in candidate is a sham candidate who is there to close the primary and disenfranchise voters," said Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg, who supports the residency requirement. "We need to close that loophole, not widen it."
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