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Attorney Wants Supreme Court To Reconsider The Case of the Phantom Write Ins

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A Jacksonville civil rights attorney is asking the Florida Supreme Court to take another look at the way campaigns recruit phony write-in candidates to close primaries – and disenfranchise thousands of voters.

Duval County State Attorney Angela Corey’s reelection bid would have been decided in the August 30 primary because she faced only Republican opposition. When that happens, Florida’s constitution says anyone can vote in the primary.

But when local divorce attorney Daniel Leigh qualified as a write in, the primary was closed. It doesn’t matter that Leigh has no intention of running, that he is a Corey contributor, or that Corey’s campaign manager filed his qualifying papers.

Civil rights attorney Samuel Jacobson argues it’s such a flagrant disregard of the Universal Primary Amendment, the Supreme Court should step in.

“Either the amendment has to go by the boards or the Supreme Court has to take on the task of determining whether it’s going to be in effect written out of existence by this ploy that’s being used.”

Jacobson estimates the move shuts out nearly 439 thousand Democrats, independents and other non-Republican voters. Put another way, Jacobson says a little less than 160 thousand Republicans, or 20 percent of voters, will decide the election.

But Jacobson faces an uphill battle. The court ruled in February in a case called “Brinkman” that write-in candidates qualify as legitimate opposition under the 1998 amendment.

A Miami native, former WFSU reporter Jim Ash is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years of experience, most of it in print. He has been a member of the Florida Capital Press Corps since 1992.