Articles Posted in Election Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the circuit court in granting a petition for writ of quo warranto and ordering that ballot titles and summaries of three proposed amendments to the Florida Constitution be stricken from the November 2018 general election ballot, holding that the petition was improperly granted. The amendments at issue were Amendments 7, 9, and 11. In reversing the decision of the circuit court and ordering that the amendments appear on the ballot for the November 2018 general election, the Supreme Court held that the circuit court (1) abused its discretion in granting the petition because the standard for obtaining quo warranty relief was not satisfied; and (2) incorrectly found any deficiency in the proposals or ballot summaries on the merits. View "Detzner v. Anstead" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the circuit court granting summary judgment in favor of the League of Women Voters and enjoining Kenneth Detzner, Secretary of the Florida Department of State, from placing Revision 8 on the ballot for the November 2018 general election, holding that the ballot language was defective. The revision at issue sought to revise Article IX, Section 4(b) of the Florida Constitution and allow the power to authorize new charter schools to be assigned to any of a variety of potential public or private entities, rather than district school boards. The circuit court concluded that both the ballot text and summary failed to inform voters of the chief purpose and effect of the proposal and that the ballot summary was affirmatively misleading. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the ballot summary failed to inform voters of the revision’s true meaning and ramifications, and therefore, the ballot language was clearly and conclusively defective. View "Detzner v. League of Women Voters of Florida" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court holding that the ballot title and summary of a proposed amendment to the Florida Constitution (Amendment 13) were clearly and conclusively defective, vacated the injunction forbidding Amendment 13 from appearing on the November 2018 general election ballot, and ordered that Amendment 13 appear on the ballot for the November 2018 general election ballot. Specifically, the Court held (1) Amendment 13’s ballot language is not clearly and conclusively defective for failing to inform voters of Amendment’s fundamental value provision; (2) the ballot language does not misstate the effect of Amendment 13; and (3) the ballot language does not mislead voters with respect to Amendment 13’s scope. View "Department of State v. Florida Greyhound Ass’n" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court validating the ballot title and summary of a proposed amendment to the Florida Constitution (Amendment 10), holding that the circuit court did not err in concluding that Amendment 10 should be included on the November 2018 ballot. Plaintiffs argued that the ballot title and summary of Amendment 10 mislead voters by failing sufficiently to describe Amendment 10’s chief purpose. The circuit court granted final summary judgment in favor of Defendants, concluding that the ballot language would enable the average voter to understand the primary effect of Amendment 10. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the ballot language was not misleading in any of the ways advanced by Plaintiffs. View "County of Volusia v. Detzner" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law

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James Wright, who sought election for the office of Mayor in the City of Miami Gardens, tendered a check to qualify as a candidate for the office. The check was returned due to a banking error. After qualifying had ended, Wright was informed of this bank error. Pursuant to Fla. Stat. 99.061(7)(a)1., Wright was disqualified. Wright filed this action seeking declaratory and mandamus relief against the City, the City Clerk, and the Miami-Dade County Supervisor of Elections (collectively, Defendants). Specifically, Wright sought to require Defendants to recognize him as a properly and validly qualified candidate for the office of Mayor in the August 30 election. The trial court denied relief, concluding that section 99.061(7)(a)1. explicitly required the City Clerk to disqualify Wright. The Court of Appeal affirmed. The Supreme Court quashed the decision below, holding that the law unconstitutionally erects a barrier that is an unnecessary restraint on one’s right to seek elective office. The Court, therefore, severed the portion of section 14 of chapter 2011-40, Laws of Florida, that amends section 99.061(7)(a)1. of the Florida Statues and, thus, the version of section 99.061(7)(a)1. in existence prior to the 2011 amendments was revived by operation of law. View "Wright v. City of Miami Gardens" on Justia Law

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Tyron Francois, a Democrat, filed paperwork to run as a write-in candidate for Broward County Commission for District 2. A resident voter filed a complaint alleging that Francois was not properly qualified to be a write-in candidate because he did not physically live within the boundaries of the district as required by Fla. Stat. 99.0615. In response, Francois argued that section 99.0615 is facially unconstitutional. The circuit court found that section 99.0615 is constitutional and disqualified Francois as a write-in candidate. The Fourth District Court of Appeal reversed, concluding that the statute is facially unconstitutional because the timing of its residency requirement for write-in candidates conflicts with the timing of the residency requirement for county commission candidates as established by Fla. Const. art. VIII, 1(e). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) section 99.0615 contravenes the residency requirement applicable to county commissioners under Fla. Const. art. VIII, 1(e), and thus Francois properly qualified as a write-in candidate; and (2) write-in candidates are included within the intended meaning of “opposition” as used in a different constitutional provision, and therefore, it was appropriate for the Democratic Party’s primary election to be closed to only Democratic-registered voters. View "Brinkmann v. Francois" on Justia Law

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This opinion was intended to bring finality to litigation concerning the state’s congressional redistricting that has spanned nearly four years in state courts. This case was before the Supreme Court for approval of a final congressional districting plan in accordance with the Court’s previous opinion in Apportionment VII and the Fair Districts Amendment. The Court approved in full the trial court’s “Order Recommending Adoption of a Remedial Map,” and directed that the plan approved here shall be used in the 2016 congressional elections and thereafter until the next decennial redistricting. In so doing, the Court rejected the Legislature’s contention that this decision moves the “goalposts” on the Legislature in its redrawing of the districts and dismissed the contention that the courts adopted a plan drawn by “Democratic operatives.” View "League of Women Voters v. Detzner" on Justia Law

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A trial court found that the Legislature’s 2012 congressional redistricting plan was drawn in violation of the Florida Constitutional’s prohibition on partisan intent because Florida’s twenty-seven congressional districts were apportioned in such a way as to favor the Republican Party and incumbent lawmakers. The Supreme Court (1) affirmed the trial court’s finding that the Legislature’s enacted map was tainted by unconstitutional intent; but (2) reversed the trial court’s order upholding the Legislature’s remedial redistricting plan, as the court failed to give proper legal effect to its determination that the Fair Districts Amendment was violated. Remanded to the trial court with directions that it require the Legislature to redraw certain congressional districts pursuant to the guidelines set forth in this opinion. View "League of Women Voters of Fla. v. Detzner" on Justia Law

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In 2012, individuals and groups challenging the constitutional validity of a 2012 congressional redistricting plan issued a subpoena duces tecum to Pat Bainter, the president of Data Targeting, Inc., a political consulting company. The challengers sought certain documents in the possession of Bainter, Data Targeting, and the company's employees (collectively, Appellants) related to the redistricting litigation. Bainter did not file a motion for a protective order or raise any legal objection to producing the documents sought by the challengers but instead attended a deposition testifying that he had produced what he had found, which was a limited amount. After being served with additional subpoenas duces tecum including the disputed documents within their scope, and during six months of hearings and filings regarding document production, Appellants did not raise any claim of a First Amendment privilege. It was only after Appellants were held in contempt of court that Appellants raised a belated claim of a qualified First Amendment privilege. Ultimately, the trial court ordered that Appellants produce 538 pages of the disputed documents. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, based on the totality of the circumstances, Appellants’ belated assertions of a qualified First Amendment privilege had been waived. View "Bainter v. League of Women Voters of Fla." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs brought lawsuits challenging the validity of the 2012 congressional apportionment plan (Plan) under the Florida Constitution's redistricting standards. At issue before the Supreme Court was whether Florida state legislators and legislative staff members had an absolute privilege against testifying as to issues directly relevant to whether the Legislature drew the Plan with unconstitutional partisan or discriminatory intent. The circuit court permitted the discovery of information and communications, including the testimony of legislators, pertaining to the constitutional validity of the Plan. The court of appeal reversed, holding that the legislators had the absolute protection of a legislative privilege. The Supreme Court quashed the court of appeal's decision and approved the circuit court's order, holding (1) Florida recognizes a legislative privilege founded on the constitutional principle of separation of powers; but (2) this privilege is not absolute where, as in this case, the purposes underlying the privilege are outweighed by the compelling, competing interest of effectuating the explicit constitutional mandate that prohibits partisan political gerrymandering and improper discriminatory intent in redistricting.View "League of Women Voters of Fla. v. Fla. House of Representatives" on Justia Law