Voting Booths Source: TFP File Photo

Florida Democrats Appeal Ballot Image Ruling

Voting Booths Source: TFP File Photo
Voting Booths Source: TFP File Photo

The Florida Democratic Party and other plaintiffs are appealing the dismissal of a lawsuit about elections officials preserving digital ballot images. Attorneys for the plaintiffs filed a notice last week that is a first step in appealing an April 25 ruling by Leon County Circuit Judge J. Lee Marsh that dismissed the long-running case.

As is common, the notice does not detail arguments that the plaintiffs’ attorneys will make at the 1st District Court of Appeal.

The lawsuit has sought, in part, to require Secretary of State Cord Byrd to issue a directive to county elections supervisors about the preservation of digital ballot images for at least 22 months after elections, according to a document filed in January by the plaintiffs’ attorneys.

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But Marsh dismissed the lawsuit on a series of grounds, including that it seeks to “compel discretionary actions,” rather than “ministerial” actions by Byrd.

“The court believes that the controls on the secretary’s exercise of discretion pursuant to this section (of law) should be left to the governor and Legislature,” Marsh wrote.

He added that “other adequate remedies exist at law — for example, an action or actions against one or more” of the county elections supervisors.

The plaintiffs initially filed the lawsuit in 2020 against then-Secretary of State Laurel Lee, state Division of Elections Director Maria Matthews and elections supervisors in Broward, Orange, Lee, Duval, Hillsborough, Palm Beach, Pinellas and Miami-Dade counties.

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A Leon County circuit judge dismissed Matthews from the case, and the 1st District Court of Appeal dismissed the supervisors after they argued they should have been sued in their home counties. A revised lawsuit was filed in 2022.

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