On February 6, I spoke at the Florida Constitution Revision Commission hearing at Nova University, in favor of “Proposal 11,” which would eliminate the “write-in loophole” that keeps primaries closed even when only one party runs candidates for a particular office. A little background here: the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) is a special commission that is convened once every twenty years, under Florida’s constitution, to review the state constitution and recommend changes that must then be approved by the voters. During the previous CRC cycle of 1997-98, I campaigned for “Revision 11,” a package of election reforms placed on the ballot by the CRC and approved by the voters, which contained a provision that when only one party runs candidates for an office in a particular race (meaning that the winner of the primary will automatically become the officeholder), all voters, regardless of party, would be able to vote in that race.
Unfortunately, this provision has not always been implemented because of the “write-in loophole”: the supervisor of elections and the courts have interpreted the law to mean that the provision doesn’t apply if there are any write-in candidates who have filed for the office. This has led to a number of “stooge” write-in candidates, who file as write-ins for the sole purpose of ensuring that the primary is not open to all voters. They are often a friend or relative of someone who is actually running as a partisan candidate. The stooge candidates usually make no effort to attract voters, and, by the way, unlike other candidates, they don’t have to pay a filing fee.
The CRC’s currently-under-consideration “Proposal 11” would eliminate the “write-in loophole” so that the presence of write-in candidates would not keep the primary closed. I don’t know if it was a coincidence that the voting reform revision of 1998 and the 2018 proposal are both numbered 11, but I made good use of that fact. I dug out of my closet a 1998 bumper sticker that says, “Support Voter Choice – Vote Yes on 11.” I held it up where the commissioners could see it during my two-minute speech. I explained that the bumper sticker was printed in 1998 and referred to “Revision 11,” which the CRC had placed on the ballot. Some of the commissioners smiled in recognition and at least one took a picture of me with the bumper sticker. I explained what Revision 11 was and how Proposal 11 would help to better implement one of its provisions that promoted voter choice. I said that, again, it’s time to support voter choice and vote “Yes on 11.” I ended by saying I didn’t know who decided to call it Proposal 11 or whether it was a coincidence, but I thanked them for making it possible for me to use my bumper sticker again 20 years later. This got some laughs and applause as I sat down. I hope the commissioners ultimately endorse Proposal 11 for a place on the November ballot.
Proposal 11 is one of only 37 proposals that the CRC is still considering for the November 2018 ballot. The 37 proposals are listed here, and details on them can be found here. The CRC will be holding additional hearings on these proposals in Melbourne (Feb. 19), Jacksonville (Feb. 20), Pensacola (Feb. 27), and St. Petersburg (Mar. 13) — click here for exact times and places. Anyone who signs up gets two minutes to speak. Over 300 people spoke at the Broward hearing that I attended.
— Tom Regnier, February 7, 2018
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