On October 29, a Florida state court ruled that a declared write-in candidate is just as much a candidate as someone who is listed on the ballot. Florida’s Constitution says that when the only candidates running for a partisan office are from the same party, and the winner of the primary will have no opposition whatsoever in the general election, then all voters (not just members of that party) may vote in that party’s primary for that particular office.
Since Florida’s major parties don’t like members of other parties voting in their primaries, they frequently recruit someone to file as a declared write-in candidate in the general election for that office. That method, described as a “loophole”, means that the special Constitutional provision doesn’t apply, since the winner of the primary will still have opposition in the general election from the write-in candidate.
In 2006, a lawsuit had been filed by a Florida voter, arguing that write-in candidates in general elections are so weak and insubstantial that they should be deemed not to exist. The case is Jacobson v Martin, Lake Co. Circuit Court, 2006-ca-1160. But the judge ruled that a write-in candidate is “opposition”, and said that a write-in candidate should not be treated as non-existent. And, in support of his conclusion, it should be noted that write-in candidates have been elected to state legislatures at general elections in 1989 (Virginia), 1990 (Rhode Island), 1994 (Kansas), 1998 (Tennessee), and 2006 (Massachusetts). Write-in candidates frequently win local office.