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Write-in candidate bill passes first committee stop

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A bill that removes the requirement that write-in candidates live within the district of the seat they’re seeking has passed its first committee stop. Members of the House Government Operations Subcommittee passed House Bill 4043 Tuesday morning with no discussion.

The bill’s sponsor, Joseph Geller, told committee members the bill was needed to repeal a law that causes confusion for voting districts because different districts have different provisions.

The glitch was thrust into the spotlight after two court cases found the law unconstitutional. It left Florida House District 64 without a representative this legislative session.

Former state Rep. Jamie Grant won re-election last year, but the election results were tossed after a court ruled a write-in candidate in the race was unduly removed from the race based on the residency requirement.

“[The law] can create confusion and its likely to lead qualifying officers to make mistakes because they don’t know it’s been struck down,” Geller said.

A new election is scheduled for April 21. Grant is alone on the ballot, but the write-in candidate, Daniel John Matthews, did qualify for the new election. Grant is expected to win handily.

A companion bill in the Senate is sponsored by Eleanor Sobel.

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Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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