Judge sets hearing in Democrats' lawsuit over mail ballots
A federal judge set Oct. 18 for a hearing on a lawsuit by the Democratic Party that seeks to give greater legal protection to Florida voters whose mail ballots could be rejected.
U.S. District Judge Mark Walker in Tallahassee conferred by phone Friday with lawyers on both sides in the case. The suit was filed by the Florida Democratic Party and Democratic National Committee against Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner, the state's chief elections official.
The suit, filed last week, seeks an injunction requiring that voters who cast mail ballots be given a chance to correct a signature matching problem in time for their votes to count, rather than having those ballots disallowed by county canvassing boards. Three years ago, the Legislature revised the law to allow voters who forget to sign their mail ballot envelopes a second chance to "cure" the problem, but voters with mismatched ballots don't have the same option.
The judge gave Detzner's lawyers one week, until next Friday, Oct. 14, to answer the suit, and plaintiffs must file their reply by noon on the following Monday, Oct. 17. Walker scheduled a hearing for 9 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 18, in his courtroom in downtown Tallahassee.
Democrats claim that current law disenfranchises lawful voters from having their ballots counted and that mismatched signatures are most common among Democratic voters.