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KENNEDY, J., dissenting
for all offices. Hence, a voter who wishes to vote for an independent candidate for one office must forgo the opportunity to vote in an established party primary in every other race. Since there might be no independent candidates for most of the other offices, in practical terms the voter who wants to vote for one independent candidate forfeits the right to participate in the selection of candidates for all other offices. This rule, the very ballot access rule that the Court finds to be curative, in fact presents a substantial disincentive for voters to select the nonpartisan ballot. A voter who wishes to vote for a third-party candidate for only one particular office faces a similar disincentive to select the third party's ballot.
The dominance of the Democratic Party magnifies the disincentive because the primary election is dispositive in so many races. In effect, a Hawaii voter who wishes to vote for any independent candidate must choose between doing so and participating in what will be the dispositive election for many offices. This dilemma imposes a substantial burden on voter choice. It explains also why so few independent candidates secure enough primary votes to advance to the general election. As the majority notes, only eight independent candidates have succeeded in advancing to the general election in the past 10 years. That is, less than one independent candidate per year on average has in fact run in a general election in Hawaii.
The majority's approval of Hawaii's ban is ironic at a time when the new democracies in foreign countries strive to emerge from an era of sham elections in which the nam of the ruling party candidate was the only one on the ballot. Hawaii does not impose as severe a restriction on the right to vote, but it imposes a restriction that has a haunting similarity in its tendency to exact severe penalties for one who does anything but vote the dominant party ballot.
Aside from constraints related to ballot access restrictions, the write-in ban limits voter choice in another way. Write
KENNEDY, J., dissenting
in voting can serve as an important safety mechanism in those instances where a late-developing issue arises or where new information is disclosed about a candidate late in the
In these situations, voters may become disenchanted with the available candidates when it is too late for other candidates to come forward and qualify for the ballot. The prohibition on write-in voting imposes a significant burden on voters, forcing them either to vote for a candidate whom they no longer support or to cast a blank ballot. Write-in voting provides a way out of the quandary, allowing voters to switch their support to candidates who are not on the official ballot. Even if there are other mechanisms to address the problem of late-breaking election developments (unsuitable candidates who win an election can be recalled), allowing write-in voting is the only way to preserve the voters' right to cast a meaningful vote in the general election.
With this background, I turn to the legal principles that control this case. At the outset, I agree with the first premise in the majority's legal analysis. The right at stake here is the right to cast a meaningful vote for the candidate of one's choice. Petitioner's right to freedom of expression is not implicated. His argument that the First Amendment confers upon citizens the right to cast a protest vote and to have government officials count and report this vote is not persuasive. As the majority points out, the purpose of casting, counting, and recording votes is to elect public officials, not to serve as a general forum for political expression.
I agree as well with the careful statement the Court gives of the test to be applied in this case to determine if the right to vote has been constricted. As the Court phrases it, we must "weigh 'the character and magnitude of the asserted injury to the rights protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments that the plaintiff seeks to vindicate' against “the precise interests put forward by the State as justifications for the burden imposed by its rule,' taking into consideration 'the extent to which those interests make it neces
KENNEDY, J., dissenting
sary to burden the plaintiff's rights.”” Ante, at 434, quoting Tashjian v. Republican Party of Connecticut, 479 U. S. 208, 213-214 (1986). I submit the conclusion must be that the write-in ban deprives some voters of any substantial voice in selecting candidates for the entire range of offices at issue in a particular election.
As a starting point, it is useful to remember that until the late 1800's, all ballots cast in this country were write-in ballots. The system of state-prepared ballots, also known as the Australian ballot system, was introduced in this country in 1888. See L. E. Fredman, The Australian Ballot: The Story of an American Reform ix (1968). Prior to this, voters prepared their own ballots or used preprinted tickets offered by political parties. Since there were no state-imposed restrictions on whose name could appear on a ballot, individuals could always vote for the candidates of their choice.
State-prepared ballots were considered to be a progressive reform to reduce fraudulent election practices. The preprinted ballots offered by political parties had often been in distinctive colors so that the party could determine whether one who had sold his vote had used the right ballot. Id., at 22. The disadvantage of the new ballot system was that it could operate to constrict voter choice. In recognition of this problem, several early state courts recognized a right to cast write-in votes. See, e. g., Sanner v. Patton, 155 Ill. 553, 562–564, 40 N. E. 290, 292–293 (1895) (“[I]f the construction contended for by appellee (prohibiting write-in voting] be the correct one, the voter is deprived of the constitutional right of suffrage; he is deprived of the right of exercising his own choice; and where this right is taken away there is nothing left worthy of the name of the right of suffrage—the boasted free ballot becomes a delusion”); Patterson v. Hanley, 136 Cal. 265, 270, 68 P. 821, 823 (1902) (“Under every form of ballot of which we have had any experience the voter has been allowed—and it seems to be agreed that he must be allowed—the privilege of casting his vote for any person for
KENNEDY, J., dissenting
any office by writing his name in the proper place”); and Oughton v. Black, 212 Pa. 1, 6-7, 61 A. 346, 348 (1905) (“Unless there was such provision to enable the voter, not satisfied to vote any ticket on the ballot, or for any names appearing on it, to make up an entire ticket of his own choice, the election as to him would not be equal, for he would not be able to express his own individual will in his own way”).
As these courts recognized, some voters cannot vote for the candidate of their choice without a write-in option. In effect, a write-in ban, in conjunction with other restrictions, can deprive the voter of the opportunity to cast a meaningful ballot. As a consequence, write-in prohibitions can impose a significant burden on voting rights. See Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U. S. 533, 555 (1964) (“The right to vote freely for the candidate of one's choice is of the essence of a democratic society, and any restrictions on that right strike at the heart of representative government”). For those who are affected by write-in bans, the infringement on their right to vote for the candidate of their choice is total. The fact that writein candidates are longshots more often than not makes no difference; the right to vote for one's preferred candidate exists regardless of the likelihood that the candidate will be successful. Socialist Labor Party v. Rhodes, 290 F. Supp. 983, 987 (SD Ohio) (“A write-in ballot permits a voter to effectively exercise his individual constitutionally protected franchise. The use of write-in ballots does not and should not be dependent on the candidate's chance of success”), aff'd in part, modified in part sub nom. Williams v. Rhodes, 393 U. S. 23 (1968).
Based on the foregoing reasoning, I cannot accept the majority's presumption that write-in bans are permissible if the State's ballot access laws are otherwise constitutional. The presumption is circular, for it fails to take into account that we must consider the availability of write-in voting, or the lack thereof, as a factor in determining whether a State's ballot access laws considered as a whole are constitutional.
KENNEDY, J., dissenting
Jenness v. Fortson, 403 U. S. 431, 438 (1971); Storer v. Brown, 415 U. S. 724, 736, n. 7 (1974). The effect of the presumption, moreover, is to excuse a State from having to justify or defend any write-in ban. Under the majority's view, a write-in ban only has constitutional implications when the State's ballot access scheme is defective and write-in voting would remedy the defect. This means that the State needs to defend only its ballot access laws, and not the write-in restriction itself.
The majority's analysis ignores the inevitable and significant burden a write-in ban imposes upon some individual voters by preventing them from exercising their right to vote in a meaningful manner. The liberality of a State's ballot access laws is one determinant of the extent of the burden imposed by the write-in ban; it is not, though, an automatic excuse for forbidding all write-in voting. In my view, a State that bans write-in voting in some or all elections must justify the burden on individual voters by putting forth the precise interests that are served by the ban. A write-in prohibition should not be presumed valid in the absence of any proffered justification by the State. The standard the Court derives from Anderson v. Celebrezze, 460 U. S. 780 (1983), means at least this.
Because Hawaii's write-in ban, when considered in conjunction with the State's ballot access laws, imposes a significant burden on voters such as petitioner, it must put forward the state interests which justify the burden so that we can assess them. I do not think it necessary here to specify the level of scrutiny that should then be applied because, in my view, the State has failed to justify the write-in ban under any level of scrutiny. The interests proffered by the State, some of which are puzzling, are not advanced to any significant degree by the write-in prohibition. I consider each of the interests in turn.
The interest that has the best potential for acceptance, in my view, is that of preserving the integrity of party pri