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Florida State Court Says Legislative Candidates Need Not Live in District on Date They File

On July 18, a Florida state court ruled that legislative candidates cannot be required to live in any particular district. This is because the State Constitution sets the qualifications for state legislature. Like the U.S. Constitution, the Florida Constitution’s residency requirement only applies to a candidate’s residence on election day. Therefore, because the filing date is several months before the election, there is in effect no residency requirement, because no one knows where any particular candidate will be living on election day, which is in the future. See this story. The headline implies the ruling only applies to write-in candidates, but it actually applies to all candidates, write-in or on the ballot.

5 Responses

  1. Jim Riley

    Florida has a specific statute that applies to write-in candidates only (99.0615). This was s(t/n)uck into a bill in 2007. It was this statute which the state court invalidated.

    As you know, Florida’s segregated partisan primaries are closed, with one exception. When all the candidates are from one party, then the primary is opened to all voters. The rationale is that the primary will definitively determine who is elected. But any candidate, whether independent, minor-party, or write-in forces the primary to remain closed.

    This has led to write-in candidates filing in races to force the primary to remain closed. In the current case, the write-in candidate was a paid volunteer for one of the ballot candidate’s 2012 congressional bid.

    The Florida Democratic Party intervened on behalf of the write-in candidate who putatively seeks to defeat the Democratic nominee in November, so as to keep the primary closed, denying Republicans and independents of the right to vote for their legislator.

    • Your message is helpful, but your last sentence is not truthful. No one has been denied the right to vote for the legislator, just because the primary was closed. Voters in Florida are free to vote for or against their legislator in the election itself, in November.

      It is disappointing to me that Florida pundits and reporters don’t grasp the real problem in Florida, which is that there are so many one-candidate elections for the state legislature in November. This is because the filing fees are far, far too high. No editorial writer in Florida ever seems to grasp this very simple point. At 6% of the annual salary for the office being sought, it’s no wonder there are so few choices in November.

      • Jim Riley

        In Florida, if there is only one candidate, the race does not appear on the ballot. See House Clerk results for 2012, FL-15 and FL-16; and footnote 1.

        In such cases, voters may not vote for their legislator, they may not vote against their legislator, they may not skip the race, they may not write in Donald Duck, they may not deface the ballot for that race.

        (1) According to the article, the Florida Democratic Party did intervene.
        (2) Any candidate is presumptively seeking to win. So the FDP did intervene to ensure there is a blank space on the ballot for voters to write in the name of a candidate who would seek to defeat the Democrat.
        (3) The FDP did so in order to keep the primary closed.

        Florida should do like California and adopt the Top 2 Open Primary.

        • Richard Winger

          You haven’t explained why the superior solution is for Florida to decrease the filing fees substantially. Do you favor reducing the Florida filing fee amounts? Florida also ought to print all races that are being elected on the ballot, even if there is only one candidate; do you agree with that statement?

  2. Demo Rep

    NO primaries.

    P.R. and nonpartisan App.V.

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