Lawsuit seeking Florida Senate District 30 election do-over may move forward

By Joe Dyton | Nov 2, 2016

PALM BEACH -- Rubin Anderson’s lawsuit seeking to redo the Democratic primary for State Senate District 30 that occurred in August may finally be moving forward.

PALM BEACH -- Rubin Anderson’s lawsuit seeking to redo the Democratic primary for State Senate District 30 that occurred in August may finally be moving forward.

A Palm Beach County judge ruled that Anderson’s lawsuit needed to be heard before a circuit judge in Tallahassee in late September. The case never moved on from that point, however because the Palm Beach County Circuit Court never received the $401 transfer fee that’s necessary to move the case to Leon County Circuit Court.

Anderson had sent the check by mail, but it never arrived, according to his attorney, Robert Hauser. Hauser wrote a check on Anderson’s behalf and delivered it to the clerk of courts on Oct. 13 to get things moving. It turns out Anderson’s current lawsuit stemmed from fees that weren’t received. He was disqualified from the August primary because his $1,781 qualifying fee check bounced. By law in Florida, candidates have until the end of the qualifying period to remedy a situation like Anderson’s but his check wasn’t returned until the qualifying period was over.

State Rep. Bobby Powell won the Democratic nomination, but a recent case ruled on by the Florida Supreme Court showed Anderson might have been improperly disqualified. In September, the Florida State Supreme Court ruled in favor of a new mayoral election in Miami Gardens because candidate James Wright’s qualifying check was rejected due to a bank error.

Based on the Florida Supreme Court’s ruling in the Wright case, an older statute of the law gives candidates 48 hours to rectify a problem with a check, even if it’s after the qualifying deadline.

“The chances (of getting a redo) are governed by the Wright decision, which is in our favor,” Hauser told the Florida Record. “Mr. Anderson is situated exactly like Mr. Wright, who was granted a new election after the fact by the Supreme Court.”

Anderson is now looking for a new primary and general election to be held. However, voting by mail has already begun and Powell’s attorney Mark Herron estimates an election redux could cost county taxpayers $500,000.

“I do not believe the cost is ultimately a relevant consideration in the litigation,” Hauser said. “Legal rights are legal rights, even if it sometimes costs money to uphold them. The problem here lies with Florida’s legislature, which passed an arbitrary and unreasonable qualification law, which has since been struck down.”

For now, Anderson’s fortunes depend on timing. If there is no ruling before Election Day on Nov. 8, voters will cast their ballots in the scheduled general election between Powell and Republican Ron Berman and the results of the election would stand. However, although unlikely, if a ruling is made before Election Day and it’s in Anderson’s favor, a new primary and general election would be held.

“I presently think it is unlikely that substantive ruling on the merits will be made on Nov. 8,” Hauser said. “And even if a favorable ruling were made, it would be appealed and likely held up anyway. In the Wright case, Mr. Wright’s ruling was also not made until after his election was over and he was excluded and that was after an appeal to the Florida Supreme Court.”

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