On July 25, U.S. District Court Judge William Zloch, a Reagan appointee, upheld Florida’s closed primaries. The case is LaCasa v Townsley, 12-22432. Some voters had filed the case, arguing that when the only candidates who qualify to appear on any ballot (primary or general) for a particular race are members of the same party, then that party’s primary, just for that particular race, should be open to all voters.
The decision is 29 pages. The first seventeen pages find that the U.S. Constitution does not require states to let non-members of parties vote in party primaries. The decision notes that the Florida Democratic Party has not said that it wishes to allow all voters to vote in its primaries, even in the circumstances of races in which only Democrats filed to be on the ballot. This part of the decision surveys all the U.S. Supreme Court precedents on who can vote in party primaries, and is more lengthy than might have been expected in a decision that had to be written in a hurry.
The decision finds that the burden on voters is not severe, because if any non-Democratic Party registrant had really wanted to vote in the particular race that prompted this lawsuit (Miami-Dade County State Attorney), he or she could have switched to being a Democrat until July 16. The primary is in August. The last part of the decision discusses the particular Florida state law that says elections like this one should be open if only members of one party are candidates. In this particular election, there are two write-in candidates in November, one of whom is not a Democrat. The decision finds that write-in candidates are candidates, even though the plaintiffs had asserted that they are sham candidates who only filed as write-ins in order to keep the primary from being open to all registered voters.