Florida Voters in Charge Sues Over Petition Drive as Signatures Fall Short
- The casino effort in Florida is backed by Las Vegas Sands Corp.
- Florida Voters In Charge has requested an extension due to an unfair process.
- Unless the court order is approved, it appears the casino petition effort is over.
Florida Voters In Charge is a group pushing for a casino in the North Florida area. The group has spent many weeks gathering signatures to see a proposal added to the ballot that would give voters a chance to vote yes or no on the matter. Backed by the Las Vegas Sands Corp., the effort has gained ground, but came up against pushback from the Seminole Tribe, the only gaming operator currently allowed in the state.
A deadline was set for Tuesday at 5pm regarding verified signatures. Florida Voters In Charge has now sued the state, claiming the process is unfair, and asked for a waiver to avoid the deadline. Any signatures that were verified after the 5pm deadline will not count, which causes the petition effort to fall short of its needed number.
Suing the State for Longer Processing Period
In the lawsuit, the petition requests that the court order the state and its county supervisors of elections to continue processing the signatures gathered by the group that were turned in after the Tuesday deadline. They feel that the signatures they have in their in-baskets should be rightly verified or rejected.
The organization says that it has turned in more signatures than it needs. The group says that unlawful delays in processing will lead to the voters in the state not having their voices heard. With the lawsuit, Florida Voters In Charge hopes that the fundamental rights will not be violated and the signatures are rightfully counted.
By early Tuesday, the Secretary of State’s office reported that just over 793,000 signatures were verified. The group must secure over 871,000 signatures to see the proposal added to this year’s ballot. The lawsuit claims that the group ran into slow processing times in some counties and districts.
Bullying Tactics Also Claimed During the Process
As Florida Voters In Charged worked quickly to try and obtain enough signatures, the Seminole Tribe was accused of paying individuals to bully and intimidate voters in Florida to keep individuals from signing the petition.
Allegedly, the tribe was paying off petition gatherers as well in an attempt to slow the process down. The group also had a separate information signature gathering operation and were hiring workers to stop the opponent’s progress.
In December, Senator Jeff Brandes called for an investigation of the tribe and these allegedly activities. The senator feels that if the voters want to have a say in a gambling expansion, then they should have their say.