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Burdick v. Takushi

United States Supreme Court
504 U.S. 428 (1992)


The State of Hawaii’s election laws did not allow voters to cast write-in votes in the state’s elections. However, the laws did allow the filing of petitions nominating candidates until two months before a primary election. Hawaii justified the write-in-voting prohibition as part of the state’s two-stage, primary-general election process. The state asserted that restricting write-in voting helped to avoid factionalism during general elections by ensuring that potentially divisive candidates who lost in the primaries would not continue to challenge their parties’ primary winners during the general election. Moreover, weeding out losing candidates allowed the state to designate the unopposed primary winners in some races as the elected officeholders, which let voters focus only on contested races in the general election. Alan Burdick (plaintiff), a registered voter in Hawaii, brought an action against Morris Takushi (defendant), Hawaii’s Director of Elections, challenging the write-in-voting prohibition. The district court found that the prohibition was unconstitutional, but the appellate court reversed. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (White, J.)

Dissent (Kennedy, J.)

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