Orange County will appeal 'partisan' ballot ruling

Mayor Jacobs alerted elections supervisor July 6

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – The voter ballots for Orange County’s Aug. 30 primary could get an 11th hour remake, courtesy of a new appeal by the county.

Judge Keith White  issued a final ruling Tuesday making the words “non-partisan elections“ invalid in the county’s charter, something he had presented in a verbal opinion in early June.

The judge allowed the referendum language that called for 16 year terms for constitutional officers including the mayor, sheriff and property appraiser.

Despite receiving a letter from Mayor Teresa Jacobs on July 6 indicating the county would appeal, Supervisor of Elections Bill Cowles told News 6 he had no choice but to prepare partisan ballots.

“And it’s not just one ballot," Cowles said.” I need ballots for all methods of voting.”

Cowles said the key issue is that “ballots have already been mailed to the military overseas” for the August primary along with the printing of another 120,000 absentee ballots.

In an email to News 6 late Wednesday a spokesperson for the county issued this statement:

"Orange County's position on this matter hasn't changed. All that happened at the July 12 hearing is that the court formally entered its final judgement, beginning the time period in which Orange County may appeal. We will be appealing the court's ruling that is adverse to the position the voters adopted when they amended the Charter calling for non-partisan races for Constitutional Officers."

The county indicated in June that it did not agree with the judge’s ruling and was prepared to appeal if necessary.

Cowles said the cost of the ballot process was close to $1.6 million and the process of starting from scratch would be difficult and confusing.

“Short of reprinting them and starting all over which would be very costly and would also disenfranchise the voters because they  wouldn’t know which ballots to vote.”

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