Court says S.F. must allow write-ins during runoffs

The Associated Press
Wednesday October 31, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO — A state appeals court said Tuesday that San Francisco voting laws must a0llow for write-in candidates during runoff elections for mayor or other city offices. 

San Francisco currently allows write-ins only during city election primaries. The race for office goes to a runoff between the top two vote vote-getters if nobody from the primary field secures a majority of the vote. 

The 1st District Court of Appeal said San Francisco’s runoff practice violated the California Constitution and the federal First Amendment rights of speech for voters and write-in candidates. During runoffs, San Francisco provides no line for write-in candidates. 

A lower court had dismissed the suit stemming from the 1999 mayoral election, which Willie Brown won. The suit was brought by Michael Edelstein, a write-in candidate for the office. The case does not affect the election’s outcome. 

The court noted that the California Supreme Court ruled in 1985 that write-ins should be allowed during runoffs in San Diego municipal elections. But the U.S. Supreme Court ruled otherwise in a Hawaii case in 1992. 

The 1st District urged the California Supreme Court to revisit its 1985 decision to clarify the conflict. 

The case is Edelstein v. Fado, A093007.