A judge has sided with the Broward County Supervisor of Elections in a lawsuit over the statewide amendment on medical marijuana being left off some absentee ballots in the county.
The National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws had filed the suit against Broward elections supervisor Dr. Brenda Snipes after voters claimed their ballots had the Amendment 2 question about medical marijuana omitted.
Judge Carol-Lisa Phillips found that although at least four voters received ballots missing the amendments, Dr. Snipes hasn't prevented them from obtaining replacement ballots.
"The court’s decision regrettably focuses only on those defective ballots we know about, that the defendant had an opportunity to cure," NORML vice-chair Norm Kent said in a statement. "It fails to pro-actively address the unknowing number of defective ballots, which the supervisor of elections admitted could still be out there and for which there may be no remedy. Instead of providing a curative instruction for the future, it leaves open the possibility that we may have to renew legal options if the breadth of the problem continues to become greater and more expansive than the Supervisor of Elections admits. We are grateful for the court’s generous demeanor and swift ruling, giving us an emergency, timely, and fair hearing, allowing NORML the opportunity to present our case to the public."
NORML's suit sought a court order to have the elections department perform a number of additional duties, including posting signage at polling places letting voters know the amendment may be missing, mail a notice to voters who requested a vote-by-mail ballot to inform them of the possibility the amendment may have been left off their ballot, and conduct a public service campaign to publicize the issue.
Judge Phillips found these steps were unnecessary.
"The court determines that the affirmative acts taken by Dr. Snipes to remedy the four known defective ballots, to prevent further defective ballots from being disseminated to voters, and to educate voters of the possibility of defects, are rational and not clearly outside legal requirements," Judge Phillips wrote in her order.
The elections department tweeted Friday that all 232,356 ballots that have been cast have had Amendment 2.
Amendment backers fell just shy of having medical marijuana approved by voters in 2014. The state requires 60 percent approval for constitutional amendments, and the ballot question was supported by 57.6 percent of voters.