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Write-in legislative candidates win spots on the November ballot, in some cases with only a handful of votes

 (Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times)
(Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times)

Though most races for the California Legislature require winning tens of thousands of votes, the state's relatively new primary election rules mean candidates can earn a spot on the November ballot with far less.

In fact, the June 7 primary saw some candidates advance to the fall election with the support of fewer voters than would fill a community swimming pool.

In Los Angeles County, seven write-in candidates for legislative races qualified for the Nov. 8 general election with a combined 456 votes. Most of those candidates had only a few dozen votes, but one write-in candidate moved on to November after receiving just seven votes.

The top-two primary, created by voters in 2010, eliminated a guaranteed spot on the fall ballot. As a result, some districts with an overwhelming registration advantage for one party are routinely abandoned by other parties, opening the door to late challengers who mount write-in campaigns.

Angela Rupert, a Democratic write-in candidate in the 46th Assembly District, said she made the decision to run for office only after the filing deadline had closed.

"I didn't feel that we had any representation," she said.

The Toluca Lake resident received 131 write-in votes and will now face incumbent Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian (D-Sherman Oaks), who received 51,135 votes.

Though announced candidates for the Assembly had to either gather 1,500 signatures or pay a $1,000 filing fee, a write-in candidate had to only gather between 40 and 80 signatures. Even so, Rupert said, she had to convince voters to then add her name to their June ballot.

"It's a really hard thing to do," she said.

Election rules state that only the two candidates with the most votes advance to the November contest. But two write-in candidates each earned 32 votes in the 62nd Assembly District, and election law states both will move on to face the incumbent, Assemblywoman Autumn R. Burke (D-Marina del Rey).

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