Racing against a 5 p.m. petition deadline
For a lot of people in Florida, 5 p.m. Friday can't come soon enough, and others wish the moment would never arrive. That's the deadline for county election supervisors to report to the state on the number of verified voter signatures on petitions seeking to amend the state Constitution in November.
As the hours tick away, attention focuses on two petitions, both of them controversial. Hometown Democracy's petition would require voter approval for local land use changes that intensify development, and Florida4Marriage would put a ban on same sex marriages into the Constitution. Both groups' petition-gathering efforts are shrouded in mystery because the state stopped giving daily updates Jan. 11.
Clerks across the state are drowning in petitions. The Division of Election has a bank of FIVE fax machines to avoid busy signals, and put election supervisors on notice that paperwork (verification totals) faxed to the Division of Elections after 5 p.m. today won't be counted. John Stemberger of Florida4Marriage sent a letter to election supervisors earlier this week notifying them of last-minute stacks of petitions headed to their offices. The state will certify all totals at noon Saturday.