Florida judge keeps Dem primary closed

Aug. 4, 2012 at 12:03 PM

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., Aug. 4 (UPI) -- A Florida judge ruled that only Democrats will be allowed to vote in this month's primary election for a county commission seat.

Circuit Court Judge John Murphy said the Florida constitution only permits registered party members to vote in a party primary as long as the opposing parties field a candidate in the general election.

A lawsuit filed by a Fort Lauderdale Republican voter argued the upcoming primary for the District 7 seat on the Broward County Commission should be open to all county voters because the Democratic primary winner would be running virtually unopposed in November.

The South Florida Sun Sentinel said Saturday the GOP managed to qualify two write-in candidates for the November ballot, which the judge ruled was good enough to keep the Democratic primary closed to non-Democrats.

Republicans argued having only two blanks spaced under their party banner on the November ballot meant the primary was the only meaningful vote in the process, and barring GOP and independent voters constituted disenfranchisement of scores of county voters.

But Judge Murphy said the constitution was "unambiguous" about primary boundaries based on a ruling 12 years ago by then-Secretary of State Katherine Harris that a write-in candidate on the general ballot was enough to close the door in a primary election to non-party voters.

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