I recently went to a forum for Congressional candidates and for the first time I physically saw one of the six mysterious Write-In candidates who are on my general election ballot actually campaigning. Of course on the ballot there is no name, just a blank line with the word Write-In under it. I took some time and researched what a Write-In candidate is and they play in the election process, and personally I find it very disturbing.

I am sure those of you who are not Republicans found out when you got your sample primary ballot that your right to vote in the District One County Commission primary race and some other races in Santa Rosa County were closed to you unless you switched parties before the deadline.

Normally in the primaries any race in Santa Rosa County is a Universal Race if only one party qualifies to run, or unless there is a Write-In candidate which basically closes all other parties from voting in that race. The plain and simple fact is that if you were not a member of the Republican Party, you were not able to vote in particular races in the August primary. In all of the primary forums that I personally attended I never remember seeing a Write-In candidate campaigning. Of the thousands of signs on the roads and in yards, I never remember seeing a sign with a Write-In name on it, never a billboard, and I never heard them on a radio program. I don’t have a problem with candidates from different parties running against each other, what I do have a problem with is the mysterious person who appears to be in the race for one purpose and that is to block other parties from voting for the candidate of their choice.

Other races in District 1, 2 & 3 in Santa Rosa County were also closed to all but the Republican Party. If you were a NPA, Independent,
Democrat or any other party you could not vote for your candidate of choice in some of those races unless you changed your party to Republican before the deadline. The District One County Commission race originally had three one party candidates, so that would have been a Universal Race, and “all” parties could have voted. However, a Write-In candidate filed and that race was then limited to Republicans only. In District 2 for the House of Representatives incumbent Clay Ford was challenged by Jeremy Bosso, both Republicans, District 3 Incumbent Doug Broxson was challenged by Jayer Williamson, both Republicans. If Republicans were the only ones running in these two races, it would be a Universal Vote and “all” parties could have voted for the candidates, but a Write-In candidate closed these races also. I find it odd that the Write-In candidates on the Broxson and Ford primary ballot are now on the general ballot, yet I haven’t seen these mysterious people campaigning against their “opponent”. Remember the word “opponent” I will come back to it shortly.

The Republican primary winners are on the general ballot running against candidates such as Democrat, Independent etc. and of course the mysterious Write-In candidate. Ironically the Write-In candidate's name will not be on the November ballot, there will just be a line for you to write in their name, that is, if you know their name. In discussing the races with a friend the other day, she told me that she was so tired of all of the confusion in the voting process that she was just going to write in a name and not vote for any of the party candidates. When I asked her if she knew what a Write-In candidate was, she said, “Yes, I just write in any name I want.” I told her, “That’s true you can do that, but you are throwing away your vote because there is an actual Write-In candidate, it is just that this person is a mysterious person, and you have to know how to spell their name perfectly.” She said, “How do I do that, if I have never heard of them.” Good point.

Unlike the other party candidates, it appears that Write-Ins don’t actually have to campaign for the office (even though they can campaign), it appears to me that only one out of the six on my general ballot have any intentions of actually trying to win a race. As I said earlier, I haven’t seen any yard signs, bumper stickers, billboards or websites for five of the Write-In candidates. When I saw a Write-In candidate actually campaigning, I thought, why haven’t the other ones done the same? That is the million dollar question, that I want answered. I see other party candidates campaigning, but there is nothing visible to the public that shows five of the Write-Ins are even in a race except the form they filed with the Supervisor of Elections. I learned that they don’t have to produce qualifying signatures or pay a filing fee as all other candidates have to do. Does that sound right to you?

So, my question is this; what is the real intent of a write-in candidate? To me the obvious reason for the ones in the primaries was to stop specific parties from voting. You might say, “Well Sharon that was probably good for certain candidates.” I’m sorry, if that is your thought pattern, it is wrong. It doesn’t matter what party I belong to, or how I personally feel about other parties, anyone who believes in freedom should be against this political maneuver. It is a disgrace to our freedom, and it is my opinion that a person who openly does this with no intention of actually running for an office is no different than the Black Panthers who tried to stop certain people from voting in the last election. The only difference is that those Write-Ins simply use a pen and a flawed election procedure instead of a bat! I’m sorry if this comparison offends you, but I personally think that if you are a registered voter, in any party, you should be highly offended by someone using a political maneuver to take away your right to vote for the candidate of your choice.

Here is a short history lesson on the Write-In candidate…In 1998 the people in the State of Florida in an effort to open Florida's primaries voted to change the Florida constitution. This change opened the primary race voting to members of “all” parties if there was no challenger from an opposing party or from independents in the general election. This was supposedly done to maximize the number of people who could vote in a primary. The intention was good and probably worked well until the year 2000 when the state's elections division ruled that Write-In candidates are also opposition candidates. So, let’s take a quick look at what the word “opponent” means, “somebody who plays, fights, or competes against you in a contest.” I think we can all agree that an election is a contest. But, are Write-Ins truly opposition candidates, or is this a loophole someone found which is now harmful to the voter? The definition of loophole is, “a rule or law that allows it to be circumvented”. The definition of circumvented is, “to find a way of avoiding restrictions imposed by a rule or law without actually breaking it.” This ruling meant that a Write- In candidate could virtually shut down certain parties from voting in a potential Universal Race primary, which counteracts the very purpose for the change to our constitution. I don’t want anyone taking away my right to vote, especially those who have circumvented a rule with the result being to block certain party members from voting, and to secure the race for certain candidates. If you don’t think that is the intention, give it a little thought, it is real easy to see the real purpose when your eyes are opened.

Several state legislators have tried to pass legislation to abolish this loophole, but those efforts have been unsuccessful. Maybe it is because We the People haven’t understood what a Write-In candidate really means. Most people think that they can write in anyone’s name and they are right, most people write in Mickey Mouse’s name or some other name. I think Mickey is great too, but his name means nothing on a ballot. The only name that will be counted is the Write-In candidate who filed to run, and as I said earlier in this article… unless you write their name on the ballot exactly as it was filed, the votes counted in his/her name will mean no more than Mickey’s name, they won’t be counted.

Do you smell something here? I do, and it smells worse than the Septic Tank Law I fought for two years. I plan to work to see this loophole is closed before another election, as it is not right or fair! We can’t change things for 2012, but I will be working on this issue for the next election, I hope you will join me, it doesn’t matter what party you are, it’s a matter of your right to vote.

Sharon Glass
Pace, Fla.