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Panel looks to close write-in loophole

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A proposed constitutional amendment that would close the so-called “write-in loophole” was approved Wednesday by a Florida Constitution Revision Commission panel.

The measure (Proposal 11), sponsored by Commissioner Sherry Plymale of Palm City, was approved by the commission's Ethics and Elections Committee. It would open primaries to all voters when the candidates are from the same party and there is no general-election opposition or only write-in candidates.

Under current law, the presence of a write-in candidate, whose name does not appear on the ballot, restricts the primary to voters of one party.

Elections supervisors told commission members this year that the use of the “write-in loophole” occurs in about 10 of the 67 counties every election cycle. They also testified that when the write-in candidate provision is used to close primaries, it draws the ire of local voters.

The measure next moves to the commission's General Provisions Committee.

To win a place on the November 2018 ballot, 22 members of the 37-member commission, which meets every 20 years, must eventually approve the measure. It would require 60 percent approval from voters to be enacted.