Court Strictly Construes Absentee Ballots in Florida Election Contest

In case of Addie L. Greene, et al. v. Jeff Clemens, et al . the Leon County Circuit Court recently entered a final judgment rejecting an election contest suit which was based upon the failure of the Palm Beach County Canvassing Board to count 40 absentee ballots.  The court found that the canvassing board did not abuse its discretion when it determined that the 40 ballots should not be counted because the signatures on the absentee ballot voter certificate did not match the signatures in the voter registration records.  The court found that its review of the issues was strictly limited by the language of F.S. 102.168(8), which states that the “circuit court may not review or consider any evidence other than the signature on the voter certificate and the signature of the elector in the registration records”. Because of the language of this statute, the court concluded that it could not consider the testimony of the voters whose ballots were rejected.  After reviewing the voter certificate signatures and comparing them with those on the registration records, the court found that the signatures did not match and therefore the Palm Beach Canvassing Board did not abuse its discretion in rejecting the ballots. 


Thomas D. Shults, Esq.

About Thomas D. Shults, Esq.

Tom Shults is the senior litigator in the law firm of Kirk-Pinkerton P.A. He represents clients in a range of matters including election law issues,complex business and commercial disputes and probate and trust suits. Mr. Shults is a Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer. Board certification is the highest level of evaluation by The Florida Bar of competency and experience within a specific area of law. Mr. Shults also holds the highest peer rating possible (AV) from the independent attorney rating agency, Martindale Hubbell. He was recently appointed chair of the Code and Rules of Evidence Committee of the Florida Bar and is a recipient of the Distinguished Community Service Award of the Sarasota County Bar Association. He is an Army veteran and was admitted to the Bar in 1983.
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