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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Florida congresswoman is anti-Trump, does not know Florida law

Florida congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said yesterday that she would not vote for Donald Trump for President, but instead would likely write-in Jeb Bush (since she also cannot support Hillary Clinton).

But it will not be that easy. Florida law does not automatically provide a write-in space for an office, but only if one or more people qualify as write-in candidates. And then a voter only can write-in the name of that qualified candidate, not some random person; writing in a random name results in an invalid vote. I do not know whether anyone has qualified as a write-in in Florida, but presumably Jeb! has not bothered. So Ros-Lehtinen's planned move would result in an invalid vote for President (which she may not mind, if he goal is just to make a point by not voting for either of the main named candidates).

How do I know all this? Because four years ago, I wanted to use a write-in so I could vote against Ileana Ros-Lehtinen for Congress. She ran unopposed, so there was no named candidate to vote for. But since no write-in candidate had qualified, I did not have that option, either. In fact, the office did not appear on the ballot at all, also depriving me of the option of a symbolic non-vote).

Posted by Howard Wasserman on August 10, 2016 at 12:45 PM in Howard Wasserman, Law and Politics | Permalink


This bit from the cited case seems apt:

"Second, the function of the election process is "to winnow out and finally reject all but the chosen candidates," Storer, 415 U. S., at 735, not to provide a means of giving vent to "short range political goals, pique, or personal quarrel[s]."

Posted by: Joe | Aug 10, 2016 10:33:06 PM

The Supreme Court has long held that the ballot does not perform an expressive function (see Burdick v. Takushi) but only an electoral function in determining who wins. So Florida can continue not to list a race if there is only one candidate. Unless you can convince the current Court that there's a First Amendment expressive component in the ballot itself...

Posted by: Josh Douglas | Aug 10, 2016 9:22:37 PM

Appears as of now that two are qualified:


Posted by: Joe | Aug 10, 2016 2:34:14 PM

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