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Fla. Supreme Court set to hear write-in candidate challenge

Grappling with legal issues that emerged during the 2014 elections, the Florida Supreme Court next week will hear arguments about residency requirements for write-in candidates.

A write-in legal dispute led the Florida House in November to decide against seating former Rep. James Grant, R-Tampa, for a House seat that he appeared to have won.

That led to a special election later this month in which Grant is expected to return to the House.

That dispute is also before the court but is on hold pending a decision in another case stemming from a Broward County Commission race.

At issue: Whether the presence of write-in candidates should “close” party primaries.

The Broward case centers on Tyron Francois, who submitted qualifying papers as a write-in candidate for a commission race that otherwise included only Democratic candidates.

Francois did not live within the district boundaries.

Jennifer Brinkmann, a Republican voter in the district, filed a legal challenge to Francois’ candidacy based on a state law that said write-ins have to live within the district boundaries at the time of qualifying.

Francois’ candidacy would have closed the primary, meaning that only Democratic voters could have cast ballots.

But the 4th District Court of Appeal later sided with Francois, finding that the residency requirement for write-in candidates was unconstitutional and that the primary should have been closed.

Brinkmann appealed to the Supreme Court, contending that the residency requirement is constitutional and also arguing that the primary should have been open to all voters regardless of Francois’ participation.

In a brief filed with the Supreme Court, Brinkmann contended that a write-in candidate does not constitute “opposition” that should close primaries.

The Supreme Court will hear arguments next Thursday in the Broward County case.

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