(CN) – The Florida Supreme Court rejected as unconstitutional state laws and regulations that allowed voters to remove their names from an initiative petition after they signed it.
The Florida Legislature adopted rules to govern the revocation of petition signatures in 2007. A group called Florida Hometown Democracy challenged those provisions in a lawsuit against Florida Secretary of State Kurt S. Browning.
The rules call for political action committees to submit signature-revocation forms for voters who wish to retract their signatures on a petition. These forms were to be submitted by Feb. 1 to apply to the following general election.
The trial court ruled for Browning, but the appeals court reversed, stating that the rules are not necessary to ensure the integrity of the election process.
The Supreme Court justices upheld the appellate court’s decision last June, but recently issued a full explanation. They noted that Feb. 1 is also the date that the secretary of state must verify whether the supporters of the initiative petition have gathered enough signatures to place the issue on the ballot.
“Hence, initiative proponents will likely receive no notice with regard to how many of their gathered, signed petition forms have been revoked until it is too late to gather, submit, and verify additional signatures,” the court wrote.
“[T]he politically charged counter-petition revocation campaigns created by these provisions in operation would essentially eviscerate and render meaningless the citizen-initiative process,” the justices explained.