California Legislature Passes Bill Eliminating Write-in Space from General Election Ballot for Congress and Partisan State Office
Source: Ballot Access News
On January 30, the California Assembly unanimously passed AB 1413, which eliminates write-in space on general election ballots for Congress and partisan state office. The bill is now on Governor Jerry Brown’s desk. Assuming this bill is signed into law, California and Louisiana will be the only states that have ever had write-in space on general election ballots that no longer do have such space.
Most California legislators were, and are, under the impression that they were forced to pass this bill. These legislators erroneously believe that Proposition 14 (passed by the voters in June 2010, and part of the California Constitution) says that write-ins should not be allowed. Actually, Proposition 14 not only says nothing about write-ins, it puts language in the Constitution which strongly implies that write-ins must be permitted.
The California Constitution says, “All registered voters otherwise qualified to vote shall be guaranteed the unrestricted right to vote for the candidate of their choice in all state and congressional elections.”
The only possible argument that the California Constitution could tolerate the elimination of write-in space would be an argument that the June and November elections are the same election, but that is a weak argument. Federal law tells the states to hold congressional elections in November of even-numbered years, so the November event “is” the “election”; the election is not in June. Another reason the June and November events are not the “same” election is that the electorate is comprised of different individuals. Many voters are on the rolls in November in a particular district who were not on the rolls in June…voters who attained the age of 18, voters who moved into the district between June and November, voters who became naturalized between June and November, and individuals who hadn’t bothered to register in time for the June primary but who were registered for the November election.
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