Democrats' suit: No Foley notices at polling sites
By JENNIFER LIBERTO
Published October 14, 2006
TALLAHASSEE - The Florida Democratic Party doesn't want signs in polling places stating that a vote for the disgraced former Rep. Mark Foley is really a vote for his replacement, state Sen. Joe Negron of Stuart.
Foley resigned two weeks ago after it was learned he conversed in a sexual manner with congressional pages. The Republican Party of Florida named Negron to run in Foley's place against Democrat Tim Mahoney.
Florida law requires Foley's name to remain on the ballot, however, which gives Democrats an advantage in the race, political experts say.
The Florida Democratic Party filed an emergency injunction in Leon County Circuit Court on Friday asking a judge to stop elections supervisors from placing signs describing the situation in the eight counties that make up Foley's old congressional district, which stretches from Palm Beach to Charlotte counties.
The issue is considered an emergency, because early voting starts Oct. 23.
An attorney for the State Association of Supervisors of Elections had suggested informational signs could be placed at polling places, as long as they also mention that Mahoney is the Democrat running in the counties within Congressional District 16. Most election supervisors agreed with him and planned to use the signs.
Now, the Florida Democratic Party is arguing that such a move violates state laws that prohibit soliciting voters within 100 feet of the entry to polling places. They say posting any candidate's name on anything inside the polling place qualifies as soliciting.
"It's not the state's job to inform voters about the Republican candidate," Florida Democratic Party chairwoman Karen Thurman said. "The Republican Party ought not to expect the taxpayers to pay for work they should be doing."
The state Republican Party said Democrats simply want to keep voters ill-informed.
"I think this is proof positive that the choice is so clear that even Karen Thurman understands that the only chance that Tim Mahoney has in the race is to keep the voters in the 16th (congressional district) in the dark," Sadosky said. "The Republicans feel a more informed, educated voter is a better voter."
Most supervisors say they plan to display the signs but said they want to wait and see what the judge says. The injunction hearing has been assigned to Leon County Circuit Judge Janet Ferris who will consider it Thursday.
"We're going to go ahead and provide the information," said Vicki Davis a Republican supervisor of elections of Martin County.
Palm Beach County is the lone exception. Supervisor Arthur Anderson, a Democrat, said he will not display any signs or leaflets, but said he will provide them if a voter requests such information.
"We need to keep the playing field level for all candidates but at the same time provide necessary information to voters so they can complete their vote," Anderson said.