Of­fi­cials vow to fight al­leged abuses

Orlando Sentinel - - LOCAL & STATE -

letters from us re­lat­ing to pe­ti­tions al­legedly signed, by them but the cit­i­zens did not sign the pe­ti­tion,” Hays said in a news re­lease Thurs­day. “This amounts to a degra­da­tion of Florida’s elec­toral process and fraud.”

In the re­lease sent by the Sher­iff’s Of­fice, Hays also said groups gath­er­ing pe­ti­tions for state con­sti­tu­tional amend­ments are ig­nor­ing mea­sures in House Bill 5, which Gov. Ron DeSan­tis signed in June. Crit­ics charged the bill was aimed at ob­struct­ing cit­i­zen-led pe­ti­tion drives Repub­li­cans op­pose.

The law re­quires pe­ti­tion gath­er­ers to reg­is­ter with the state and have a Florida ad­dress and pro­hibits them from be­ing paid by the num­ber of sig­na­tures col­lected. It also re­quires fines of $50 for each pe­ti­tion sheet sub­mit­ted more than 30 days af­ter sig­na­tures were gath­ered or $250 if the de­lay was will­ful.

“There have been nu­mer­ous re­ports of vi­o­la­tions over the last sev­eral months and it ap­pears as though they may be will­fully do­ing so,” Hays said.

Grinnell said it’s his duty to en­force the law. “We must en­sure ver­i­fi­ca­tion that th­ese groups, which are op­er­at­ing in Lake County, are fol­low­ing the law and not de­fraud­ing vot­ers in an at­tempt to hi­jack our State’s Con­sti­tu­tion,” he said in the re­lease. “We can­not and will not ig­nore en­forc­ing the law, and we will do ev­ery­thing in our power to pro­tect and de­fend the Con­sti­tu­tion and Laws of Florida.”

Groups are gath­er­ing sig­na­tures for a slew of pro­posed con­sti­tu­tional amend­ments that could be on the bal­lot next year.

Most re­cently, the Florida Supreme Court ap­proved word­ing for Amend­ment 2, whether to raise the state’s min­i­mum wage to $15 an hour by 2026.

Two oth­ers listed on the bal­lot al­ready are Amend­ment 1, re­quir­ing that only U.S. cit­i­zens could vote in state and lo­cal elec­tions, and Amend­ment 3, call­ing for non­par­ti­san open pri­maries. But they could be elim­i­nated if the Supreme Court rules against their lan­guage.

Other ef­forts are un­der­way to place on the bal­lot amend­ments to ban as­sault weapons, le­gal­ize recre­ational mar­i­juana and man­date that bal­lot pro­pos­als be ap­proved twice be­fore be­com­ing law.

Hays

Grinnell

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