The Florida Constitution Revision Commission got off to a cautious start Monday, advancing only two of more than 1,400 constitutional changes that had been filed by the public. The commission, which meets every 20 years and has the power to put constitutional amendments on the 2018 general-election ballot, voted to give further consideration to a measure to close the so-called “write-in candidate loophole” in state election law and to an amendment that would remove obsolete language related to a failed high-speed rail plan. Commissioner Sherry Plymale of Palm City asked the commission to give preliminary support to an amendment (700396) from Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg that seeks to end the practice of closing party primaries when a write-in candidate is on the general election ballot.
Under state law, all voters can participate in a primary when only one party fields candidates. But if a write-in candidate, who doesn’t have a party, files for the general election, it closes the primary to only one party’s voters.
The net effect, for example, is that if Republicans have a primary and Democrats do not, Democratic voters still cannot cast ballots in the primary if there is a write-in in the general election. Democrats can vote in the general election, but only the Republican primary winner’s name will be on the ballot, virtually assuring the outcome of the election.
Under the amendment, which advanced by a 27-3 margin, all voters would be able to participate in a primary if there is no other general election opposition or if the only opposition comes from write-in candidates.