A Broward County judge has ruled in favor of Supervisor of Elections Dr. Brenda Snipes in a case involving mail-in ballots that omitted Amendment 2.

Snipes’ office was accused of leaving Amendment 2 off some of the absentee ballots. Four Broward County residents testified in court on Thursday that their ballots did not include Amendment 2.

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Amendment 2 asks Florida residents to approve marijuana for medical purposes. It needs 60 percent approval in order to become law.

The plaintiff, the Florida chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), asked the court that Snipes’ office inform voters via signs or notices at polling places that Amendment 2 is indeed on the ballot. Broward Circuit Judge Carol-Lisa Phillips denied the plaintiff’s motion in a decision just after noon on Friday.

Phillips said NORML of Florida “failed to demonstrate irreparable harm or a violation of a clear civil right.” Phillips also noted Snipes had offered replacement ballots for people who requested them and directed election officials to look at ballots and determine if Amendment 2 was included.

Norm Kent, Vice President of NORML Florida, said the court’s decision does not solve the ballot mystery.

“The court’s decision regrettably focuses only on those defective ballots we know about, that the defendant had to the opportunity to cure,” Kent said. “It fails to pro-actively address the unknowing number of potentially defective ballots, which the supervisor of elections admitted could still be out there and for which there may be no remedy.”

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Snipes testified in court that her office is taking the issue very seriously. This is not the first time this year, the Broward Elections Supervisor has been under scrutiny. In August it was revealed, Snipes office had released results of the primary election before polls had closed, prompting an investigation by the State Attorney’s Office.

With the possibility of ballots in circulation that omit Amendment 2, NORML of Florida asked the court for more judicial oversight of the election process. Judge Phillips, however, denied that request.

“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 that the Supervisor of Elections admits,” Kent said. “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.”

In the 2014 election, a similar marijuana amendment received 58 percent approval by Florida voters. Re-written to address exact ailments permissible for treatment by marijuana, the amendment has polled as high as 73 percent approval.

 


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