Mayor Hopeful Says Misconduct Is Afoot

     MIAMI (CN) – A local official violated Florida constitution when she canceled the last day of early voting in Miami’s May 24 special election for a new mayor, a former state legislator and mayoral candidate claims in Miami-Dade County Court.

     Voters recalled former Mayor Carlos Alvarez in March after the city council and Alvarez raised property taxes and gave raises to county employees despite a ballooning budget deficit.
     Last month, county commissioners set May 24 to host a special election for a new mayor, with early voting dates from May 9 through May 22, as per Florida statues that mandate “early voting shall begin on the 15th day before an election and end on the 2nd day before an election,” according to the complaint filed by Marcelo Llorente, a former state legislator who hopes to fill Alvarez’s vacant seat.
     “On or before May 5,” Llorente says the county mailed out a sample ballot that included the early voting dates, times and locations. On May 6, however, the Florida Legislature passed a bill that would change early voting to end on the third day before the election.
     “As of May 16, 2011, the Governor had NOT signed HB 1355 into law,” according to the complaint.
     Nevertheless, that same day, County Manager Alina Tejeda Hudak sent a letter to the Board of Miami-Dade County Commissioners and county elections supervisor Lester Sola, “stating that[,] pursuant to the Governor’s anticipated signing of HB 1355, the county was canceling early voting for Sunday, May 22, 2011.”
     Llorente says it is unconstitutional to change early voting dates after the process has already started and without the governor’s signature on the bill.
     Asking the court to reinstate May 22 as an early voting day, Llorente sued the Board of County Commissioners, Hudak, Sola and Florida Secretary of State Kurt Browning for injunctive and declaratory relief. He is represented by Juan-Calos Planas with Kurkin Forehand Brandes.

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