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Florida Supreme Court takes up write-in candidate dispute

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The Florida Supreme Court takes up one legal issue that arose from the 2014 elections, when they hear arguments next week about residency requirements for write-in candidates.

In a case emerging from a Broward County Commission race, justices will determine whether write-in candidates on the ballot should “close” party primaries.

Tyron Francois, a write-in candidate, submitted qualifying papers in the race that would have only had Democratic candidates otherwise. At the time, Francois did not live in the district. Republican voter Jennifer Brinkmann filed the legal challenge to Francois’ candidacy based on the Florida law that requires write-ins to live within the community they seek to represent at the time of filing qualifying papers.

Francois closed the primary, where now only Democratic voters could cast ballots. However, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled for Francois, saying the residency requirement was unconstitutional, ordering the primary closed. Brinkmann filed an appeal in the Supreme Court, arguing the residency requirement is constitutional and the primary should be open to all voters, despite Francois’ candidacy.

Brinkmann’s contention, according to a brief filed with the Supreme Court, is that write-in candidates do not constitute “opposition” that would force primaries to close. A similar dispute took place in November, leading the Florida House to rule against former Republican Rep. James Grant of Tampa, in a House seat that he, by all accounts, should have won. Grant now faces a special election this month that will bring him back to the House.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.

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