FORT LAUDERDALE — A medical marijuana advocacy group
lost its fight in court over a missing ballot question in Broward County, Florida.
The National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws (NORML)
filed a lawsuit in October after several voters said a referendum legalizing
medical marijuana was missing from their ballot. The group asked Broward
Circuit Judge Carol-Lisa Phillips to order Broward County Supervisor of
Elections Brenda Snipes to make sure voters were aware of possible problems
But Phillips said those steps weren’t necessary, leaving
advocates in the dark about how many voters won’t be able to weigh in on the
medical marijuana issue.
“We don’t know how many ballots are actually missing the
question,” Executive Director of NORML Florida Karen Goldstein told The Florida Record. “The supervisor of
elections in Broward claims there were no more than seven ballots missing
Amendment 2, but we’ve had a lot of calls.”
Snipes said in court she rectified the situation, and that the problem was isolated to only a few ballots.
The issue came to light after two voters in Broward County
reported their ballots did not have Amendment 2 — the marijuana referendum — on
their ballots. Those two voters, along with two others who testified in court
that they also did not have the question on their ballots, were given new,
Goldstein said officials gave multiple reasons as to why the
accident happened. And because the group was not given oversight, they might
never know the impact the misprinted ballots could have.
“We only have [Snipes’] word,” she said. “We don’t know how
many. It’s like a shot in the dark right now.”
Amendment 2 is a constitutional amendment that requires
support from 60 percent of voters to pass. In 2014, a similar measure was on
the ballot and received 57 percent of the vote. Marijuana advocates say 2014’s
result illustrates that every vote matters, and that even a small percentage of
voters not getting the chance to vote on the issue could affect the outcome of
“There are 92 ballot styles for this election,” Goldstein said.
“The supervisor of elections in Broward says they print test ballots for each
ballot style to make sure they’re going to go through the machine properly. We
don’t know why the seven test ballots in Fort Lauderdale got mailed out the way
they did, and we don’t know if it’s happening in other areas. Seven ballots in
one test area, if you do the math, that’s 600 to 700 ballots that could be missing
This isn’t the only issue Snipes is facing. Media reports
claim absentee ballots haven’t been received by Broward voters, GOP groups
accused election officials of voter fraud and some ballots had incorrect
Goldstein said election results are not certified the day of
the election, so it’s possible there are other legal avenues advocates can
pursue if more evidence comes forward of ballot problems. She said that she’s
unsure what, if anything, NORML might do.