A Republican primary for an open state House seat has been moved to the November general election after a write-in candidate who had closed the primary withdrew from the contest. Secretary of State Ken Detzner declared the Republican House District 56 primary a universal election, based on a state law, and moved the contest to the No. 6 general election. The decision came after David Joseph Patzer of Mulberry submitted a handwritten note Wednesday to the state Division of Elections stating his withdrawal from the contest.
While this year’s elections have seen some interesting twists, one of the most problematic could be the printed stickers used by those voting for Provo mayoral write-in candidate, Odell Miner. In a generous move, Miner had transparent stickers printed with his name and a filled-in voting oval or bubble to affix to the mail-in ballot in the hopes of making things easier for those voting for him. Bryan Thompson, Utah County clerk/auditor, was uneasy about Miner using the stickers in case a reading machine got jammed or had some other problem. However, Thompson said he couldn’t stop Miner from doing it either. “I told Odell you may not see all of your count,” Thompson said.
Editorials: Closing Florida’s write-in loop hole a way to protect voters’ rights | Tallahassee Democrat
Of all the wide-ranging suggestions the Constitution Revision Commission has received, there are two dealing with Florida’s election laws that we hope the panel will put on the 2018 ballot for a statewide referendum. Actually, the Legislature should have taken care of these things the old-fashioned way long ago. But since the elected politicians won’t, we hope the CRC will act to close the “write-in loophole” and bring about open primaries next year. First, that write-in gimmick. The last time the state constitution was overhauled, 20 years ago, commissioners decided that when only Republicans or only Democrats run for an office, everybody should be allowed to vote in the primary in that race. But then the Division of Elections issued a legal opinion decreeing that write-in candidates are real contenders for a public office. Legally, on paper, perhaps they are — but as a matter of practical politics, they’re not. Meaning no disrespect to sincere, well-intended people who can’t afford the qualifying fee, so they offer themselves as write-in candidates, they have no chance of winning. Not one state legislator ran as a write-in, nor has anyone won that way in modern times.
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.
Lawyers for the Green Party and the Republican Party (yes, you read that right) are joining in a lawsuit asking a federal judge to throw out the results of a special Pennsylvania House election in a North Philadelphia district last month. The suit says the election, won overwhelmingly by Democrat Emilio Vasquez, was marked by widespread voter intimidation and election tampering. “I’ve been practicing election law in Philadelphia for 12 years,” GOP attorney Linda Kerns said. “And what happened that day is the worst case of election code violations in Philadelphia history, and I think that’s saying a lot.”
Pennsylvania: Controversial 197th District special election heading to federal court? | Philadelphia Inquirer
Tuesday’s controversial special election to fill the state House’s 197th District seat may be moving from the polling place to federal court, as Philadelphia’s City Commissioners prepare to start tallying the votes Friday morning. Lawyers for Republican nominee Lucinda Little, the only candidate who was listed on the ballot, and Green Party nominee Cheri Honkala, who waged a write-in campaign, sent letters to the Commissioners Thursday, demanding that they seal and preserve the ballots. Both camps alleged widespread voter fraud in the North Philadelphia district. Little won just 198 votes, which was 7.4 percent of the 2,681 ballots cast. In an unusual development, 2,483 write-in votes were cast.
If you can’t make up your mind from this list of presidential candidates, you’re not trying. Sure, voters will see Republican Donald Trump, Democrat Hillary Clinton and Libertarian Gary Johnson on their ballots on Nov. 8 and during ongoing early voting. But they’ll also have 15 write-in candidates for president to choose from, ranging from Green Party candidate Jill Stein to a guy who goes by the name Joe Exotic. Delaware County election officials caution that people who want to make their vote — even a write-in vote — count have to write in one of the 15 write-in candidates certified by the state. “If it’s not a certified write-in candidate, that office doesn’t get a vote,” Delaware County Clerk Mike King told The Star Press. So votes for Daffy D. Duck or Amanda Hugginkiss will not be counted. But voters will be able to write in Matthew “None of the Above” Roberts, a political science professor from Michigan who told a newspaper he wants to spark a “conversation” about the political system, or Richard Duncan, an economist from Ohio.
Florida: Phantom write-in candidates bar more than a million voters from Florida elections | Tampa Bay Times
In his secretive and impossible bid for public office, James Bailey will accomplish only this: He will deprive thousands of residents from voting for their state legislator. Bailey, 28, is a write-in candidate for a state House seat in Vero Beach, a three-hour drive from his home in Clearwater. He’s not campaigning or raising money. He faces possible fines for refusing to file routine campaign paperwork. He won’t answer phone calls and e-mails. Yet his sham candidacy is manipulating the outcome of a race involving four Republicans. Because only one party fielded candidates, the primary should serve as a general election where all voters, not just Republicans, cast ballots. Such a “universal” primary is the intent behind a 1998 constitutional amendment passed by Florida voters to open up one-party contests to the entire electorate.
The Idaho Legislature is considering another primary election bill which, for voters who plan to vote Republican, further complicates this spring’s two primary elections. The new bill, SB 1195, proposes to move the deadline for switching party affiliation prior to voting in the upcoming May 17 primary election. The bill would move the current deadline for affiliating with the Republican Party from March 12 to Feb 12. Those voters who are officially affiliated with a party other than the Republican Party have already missed the Dec. 9, 2015, deadline to affiliate and participate in the Republican presidential primary race. The Idaho Legislature voted last year to separate the Republican presidential primary elections from all of the other statewide and local primary races that are set for May 17 this year.
What happens on Election Day in a town where nobody runs for office? People can still fill out a write-in candidate, but what if there are only two people to choose from and they’re also the only two registered voters? Spencer Mountain in Gaston County hasn’t had a town government or a single voter in the last four years, but on Tuesday the only two people living there wrote themselves in on the ballot. “They’ve not had city council meetings, they’ve not had a mayor, they’ve had nothing, so it’s quite interesting,” said Adam Ragan. “It’s an interesting situation.”
Michigan: Governor signs bill to fix Flint election, opening up ballot for mayoral candidates | MLive.com
Candidates for mayor of Flint can start focusing on the campaign and forget about whether they’ll be on the primary election ballot. Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation today, June 5, to authorize extension of the filing deadline for the August primary election, a move that will allow for a standard showdown for the city’s top job. Incumbent Dayne Walling, businesswoman Karen Weaver, and two city councilmen — Wantwaz Davis and Eric Mays — are in line for spots on the ballot, city officials have said.
A bill to fix Flint’s tangled 2015 election has cleared the state Legislature and is headed to Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk. Both the state House of Representatives and Senate on Wednesday, June 3, approved the legislation, which would allow the city to include the names of mayoral candidates on the August primary ballot even though they missed the April 21 deadline for filing nominating petitions. City Clerk Inez Brown’s office mistakenly told those candidates and candidates for two City Council seats the wrong filing deadline — April 28. Without a change in the law, Flint voters face a write-in-only campaign for mayor in November and no primary election.
It’s too soon to say whether or not Jamie Grant will be re-elected to his House District 64 seat. But not really. He will be elected and everyone knows this. Grant, who was first elected in 2010, is literally the only name on the ballot for the special election being held Tuesday. Voters will head to the polls in parts of both Hillsborough and Pinellas to cast their ballots in Grant’s shoo-in bid. Early voting in the election wrapped up over the weekend.
The General Assembly wants to tinker with how elections operate in Iowa. Since the opening of the 2015 session, there have been five bills relating to the electoral process offered in the House and Senate. They range from a bill to allow small cities to hold their municipal elections by absentee ballot only to a wholesale change to how elections are funded in the first-in-the-nation caucus state. Senate File 10, offered up by state Sen. Brad Zaun (R-Urbandale), would require runoff primary elections whenever there is an “inconclusive” primary election. Iowa law requires a candidate to have at least 35 percent of the vote to win a primary election. When no candidate reaches the 35-percent threshold, a convention is held to determine the winner. U.S. Rep. David Young was the fifth-place finisher in the June primary election last year, but won the Republican nomination after several ballots at a district convention.
The absurdity that has marred the HD 64 contest since last summer continues, with GOP candidate Miriam Steinberg dropping out of the special election GOP primary scheduled for February. That means that Jamie Grant, the former incumbent, will now face (and likely destroy) write-in candidate Daniel Matthews in the special general election contest scheduled for April 21. The contest will cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars, with the outcome not in doubt, as no write-in candidate has ever won an election in Florida. Even if Steinberg had qualified by the noon deadline on Tuesday, she would remain a heavy underdog to Grant, who was first elected to the half-Pinellas/half-Hillsborough district back in 2010 and re-elected in 2012. He defeated Steinberg last month by a 59.5 percent to 40.5 percent margin.
As expected, Gov. Rick Scott on Monday ordered a special election for the vacant seat in Florida’s House District 64 for Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. The special primary election will be Feb. 10, with a special general election set for April 21. That means nearly 158,000 district residents won’t have representation in the state House of Representatives for the bulk of next year’s legislative session, which runs March 3-May 1. The move also potentially resets the field, with a new – though abbreviated – round of candidate qualifying set for 8 a.m. Dec. 15-noon Dec. 16. The previous incumbent, Republican Jamie Grant, on Monday said he will again file to run. He’s represented the district, covering northwest Hillsborough and eastern Pinellas, since 2010. His GOP challenger, Tampa engineer Miriam Steinberg, was less sure she would run again. In non-binding Nov. 4 results, Grant had won with 59.5 percent of the vote.
Residents of Carrollwood, Citrus Park, Oldsmar and Safety Harbor won’t have a representative in the Florida House — for now. State lawmakers voted Tuesday to throw out the results of the House District 64 election, creating a vacancy in the Tampa Bay area. Gov. Rick Scott is expected to call a special election. Lawmakers admitted that Tuesday’s vote was unusual. Although incumbent state Rep. Jamie Grant was recently declared winner of the contest, an appeals court ruled that a write-in candidate was wrongly withdrawn from the race. “There was a conflict between the 1st District Court of Appeal and the secretary of state, and we felt just based on that alone, that we would work to try to actually speed (up) the process by having a special election,” said House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island.
Residents of Carrollwood, Citrus Park, Oldsmar and Safety Harbor won’t have a representative in the Florida House — for now, at least. State lawmakers voted Tuesday to throw out the results of the House District 64 election, creating a vacancy in that district. Gov. Rick Scott is expected to call a special election. State Rep. Jamie Grant, R-Tampa, had already raised questions about the integrity of the Nov. 4 contest, which he won comfortably. Earlier this month, he pointed out that an appellate judge deemed the election unconstitutional. “You can’t send a candidate to Tallahassee to office on the back of an election that was deemed unconstitutional,” he told the Herald/Times.
A communications breakdown between state and county elections officials looks like it will cost more than $13,000 in unanticipated expenses that will be picked up by Brevard County Supervisor of Elections Lori Scott out of her taxpayer-funded budget. The glitch was the result of Kourtney Ann Waldron, a write-in candidate for Florida House in District 53, dropping out of the race last month. Waldron on Sept. 11 notified the Florida Department of State’s Division of Elections of her decision to withdraw. But the state did not pass the information on to Scott’s office before ballots were printed a week later. So the local ballots, including absentee ballots, included a line for a write-in candidate in the District 53 race. Scott — who said she found out on Sept. 29 about Waldron’s withdrawal from a voter — decided she needs to inform voters that there no longer is a write-in candidate in the race.
The race to fill a single Broward County Commission seat has been so chaotic, the elections supervisor says laws need to change. Uncertainty and litigation have characterized the race to fill the District 2 seat in northern Broward, simply because a write-in candidate joined the contest. The signals voters are getting are crossed: The race was moved to November, but it’s still on the ballot in August. In November, voters from all parties will participate. In August, it’s on the ballot only for Democrats. And the case is on appeal, so no one’s positive when the race will be, or who’ll get to vote in it.
Despite claims that the territory’s primary elections in both districts would be certified Tuesday, they were not. While both districts continued counting late into Tuesday night, V.I. Elections Supervisor Caroline Fawkes said that it was unlikely that the final results would be certified until today, or possibly later in the week. They also were not revealing numbers of all the walk-in, mail-in and provisional ballots at stake, nor were they revealing results, including those of several Senate candidates whose fates hang in the balance. The boards have until Aug. 17 to certify the elections. Last week, internal strife between St. Thomas-St. John Deputy Supervisor Nefredieza Barbel and district board Chairman Arturo Watlington Jr. marked the counting process in the St. Thomas-St. John office.
A judge in Tallahassee disqualified a write-in candidate in the Florida House District 64 race Thursday because the write-in didn’t live in the district. As a result, what was a closed primary election between two Republicans scheduled for Aug. 26 now will be open to all voters in November — as it should be. District 64, which runs from Safety Harbor in Pinellas County to Carrollwood in Hillsborough, is set up to lean Republican, so much so that Democrats didn’t even bother to field a candidate to challenge incumbent Rep. Jamie Grant, R-Tampa. Grant did manage to draw a Republican challenger, however, in Miriam Steinberg, a Tampa engineer. Still, at that time all voters in the district were eligible to vote in the primary. Florida mandates an open primary if members of only one party are on the ballot and there are no other candidates running in the general election because the winner of the primary automatically wins the general election.
California: State doesn’t allow write-in candidates in its general election, so a write-in candidate is suing | The Washington Post
An independent candidate who received a single vote for a U.S. House seat in California is suing the state over it’s top-two primary system, which allows write-in candidates in the primary but not the general election. Theo Milonopoulos, a PhD student at Columbia University, filed to run as a write-in candidate in the crowded primary race to replace the retiring Rep. Henry Waxman (D), after missing the deadline to appear on the ballot. Under California’s election law, the top two candidates with the highest number of votes in a primary election move onto the general election, regardless of party, and any write-in votes in the general election are not counted.
Determining election results in two races could be more tedious next month with two write-in candidates seeking office. Zillah Republican Curtis E. Vangstad announced that he’s a write-in candidate for Yakima County Commissioner, seeking Republican Rand Elliot’s seat for District 3. And Yakima attorney Michael “Scott” Brumback is making a write-in bid as a conservative Republican for a 14th Legislative District seat held by Rep. Norm Johnson, R-Yakima. Having two write-in candidates at once is rare in Yakima County, and could create additional work for election officials, Yakima County Auditor Corky Holloway said Friday. Election officials hand-type every name voters write on ballots and record the results. “It is tedious, but that’s their job,” Holloway said. “It’s timely, but it’s doable.”
Ronald Bray submitted all the required paperwork to qualify as a write-in candidate on the Nov. 4 general election for the seat of state House District 96. Two candidates from the Democratic Party qualified to have their names printed on the ballot. Article VI, §5(b) of the Florida Constitution provides that primaries are open to all voters regardless of party affiliation where the winner of the primary “will have no opposition in the general election.” In the Fourth District Court of Appeal, any opposition, even write-in candidates, precludes the application of the clause, and keeps the primary closed. Telli v. Snipes, 98 So.3d 1284 (Fla. 4th DCA 2012). Bray, as a write-in candidate, is the only opposition candidate for the general election for House District 96. Because Bray is an opposition candidate, the Democratic primary in the district was going to be held as a closed primary.
A Florida election law could keep some voters from deciding certain races in the upcoming primary election. Sixteen years ago Florida voters approved an amendment to the state constitution. It states when there’s a write-in candidate, it automatically closes the election to voters who are not registered to that specific party. Some feel that excludes them from having a say in the process. “Certainly it does need to be addressed. To me it’s not a democrat or republican issue. It gives the impression of impropriety,” said Fort Myers voter Richard Schaffer.
For poll worker Larry Nelson, Election Day’s most irritating hour — or hours — arrives after the polls close, when the write-in votes are counted. “Here you are, on your feet after working 14 hours, and now you have to sort through the ballots looking for Mickey Mouse,” he explains. “It’s quite a bit of work for something that doesn’t mean a whole lot. Hopefully we can get the law changed before the next election.” Consider it done. On April 2, the day after this year’s spring election, Gov. Scott Walker quietly signed a bill lifting the requirement that all write-in votes must be counted.
Fairfax County elections officials said Saturday that they had discovered about 3,200 absentee ballots that went uncounted on Election Day, producing a chunk of new votes for Democratic state Sen. Mark R. Herring in the still-undecided race for Virginia attorney general. The newly found ballots added another twist to the closely watched contest for the commonwealth’s chief lawyer that will likely end in a state-funded recount in December. The high stakes were underscored by the dozens of operatives from both parties who descended on the Fairfax County Government Center to monitor the election board’s proceedings. The winner will hold an office that has become a launchpad to the governorship and national politics. Virginia Republicans, who narrowly lost the governorship and lieutenant governor’s posts to Democrats on Tuesday, are hoping to avoid being shut out of statewide office — including both U.S. Senate seats — for the first time since 1970. Democrats are eager to secure a post that has not been held by the party since 1994. The number of uncounted ballots in large, heavily Democratic Fairfax, more than officials had initially believed, yielded 2,070 additional votes for Herring (D-Loudoun) and 938 for state Sen. Mark D. Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg). Some ballots contained write-in candidates for attorney general.
The final results are in for the recall election of Senate President John Morse — and it was a squeaker. With additional ballots counted, it turns out that Morse lost by just 319 votes. With the deadline for receiving military and overseas ballots passed, all possible remaining legal votes in the Senate District 11 Recall Election have been collected and tabulated. The El Paso County Clerk and Recorder’s Office announces the official final result of the election as follows: The final results include an additional 76 ballots from military and overseas voters and 22 polling place provisional ballots that were counted after signatures were verified.
The CT Tea Party in Bethel is knocked off the ballot for the November election because of a filing technicality based on a two-year-old election law, leaving former First Selectman Robert Burke the option of running as a write-in candidate. In Westport, a local minority party lost its ballot line for the first time in 20 years. In Ridgefield, the local independent party line was bounced from the ballot because of the same law. However, Ridgefield’s and Westport’s cross-endorsed candidates will appear on the ballot. Local officials in recent days learned that minority parties in Middletown, Simsbury and Fairfield may have problems related to the 2011 law, which requires minority party candidates to sign certificates of endorsements filed with town clerks. Signatures are not required of Republicans and Democrats.