On July 29, 2014, the BCC voted to place the subject Ballot on the November election cycle as a referendum. If the referendum passes during the November 2014 general election, the effect will be to revise Section 605 of the Orange County Charter and reschedule the next election of all Charter offices elected countywide from 2018 to 2016.
The phrase all Charter offices elected countywide is materially misleading.
If the referendum passes, only one (1) county official, Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, will have a term of office cut in half and be forced to run for election again in two years, rather than four. Jacobs, who is unopposed for reelection this year and, therefore, is now deemed under Florida law to be reelected, would otherwise have a new term of office from 2014 through 2018. However, the subject Ballot singles out only the office of Jacobs that is, the office of Orange County Mayor and reduces Jacobs next term of office by two years.
Brownstone Law, an appellate firm based in Winter Park, Florida challenges the legality and validity of a ballot initiative petition in Orange County that misled registered voters as to the purpose of the amendment. Brownstone filed an injunction to stop the ballot from being placed on the November 2014 voter forms.
Brownstones Managing Partner Robert Sirianni says In my judgment, it is the deceptive ballot summary and ballot title that do not reveal that the mayors office is the only office affected they are hiding the ball. The Ballot entry uses vague, generic, and deceptive terms to hide the actual intent and effect of the new law. The Ballot will deceive voters by failing to disclose that Jacobs will have not a full four-year term of office, but rather a term cut in half.
Voters, such as Plaintiff Marcos Sayago, are reasonably led to believe by Florida election law and the county charter that Jacobs has been reelected for a new four-year term; however, if the subject Petition passes during the same election on November 4, 2014, the legitimate belief of the voters is undermined, and the ballot title and summary does not and will not correct or dispel that belief.
Sayago alleges that the subject ballot title and summary mislead voters into believing that more than one Charter office elected countywide will be subject to the rescheduling of elections and truncation of terms. He also claims that the Ballot failed to state with specificity, and otherwise failed to disclose, that the only office which will be impacted by the amendment to Section 605 of the Orange County Charter is that of Jacobs.
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