E-mail this page link

“They seem to think they have absolute power over there, however, if they are going to interpret the laws of the county they should expect that their work is subject to legal review by a court of law” 

Posted January 15, 2005

By: Arnold Weiss

Voting rights activist, Arnold Weiss, files suit against Miami-Dade County Attorney and County Commissioners

MIAMI, FL (Jan 3) – Responding to widespread concern over the integrity of Florida’s electronic voting machines, this December, local activist Arnold Weiss, launched an unprecedented citizen-initiated campaign to place an election reform ballot question, requesting a verifiable paper ballot for all voting equipment, before Miami-Dade County voters. Under his proposal, the County’s voting equipment would be required to produce a two-part voter verifiable paper ballot, which would include a tracking number that could later be cross-check against electronic voting records. 

Upon receiving the proposal, the county clerk was required under the charter to immediately submit the proposal to the Board of Commissioners who according to section 7.1, ‘shall without delay approve as to form a petition.’ However, instead the clerk improperly submitted it to Miami-Dade County Attorney Murray Greenberg, who improperly dismissed the initiative, stating without specificity that the “petition was in violation of state law.” Weiss responded, “The county charter is crystal clear in stating that upon submission of a proposal the Board only approves it as to form, which is meant to ensure that I am collecting the proper data, at which point I am supposed to have 60 days.” 

Since no countywide election is scheduled until 2006, Weiss needs to collect 84,000 signatures within 60 days from the time the petition is approved, at which point the signatures are checked within 30-days and then the commission must either adopt the proposal or schedule a special election 120 days later. According to Weiss, “Given the amount of time it will take to get the equipment certified, bought and trained we really have to do this now to have everything ready by November 2006 when we have races for the Governor. US Senate, and House.” 

In his court filing, Weiss stated that under the charter Greenberg had no authority over or role in the petition approval process. According to Weiss, “the County Charter leaves no doubt as to what exactly the county is required to act, and Mr. Greenberg’s office is not supposed to be even remotely involved until after the signature gathering process has been completed.” 

Weiss, who works as a media consultant, decided to start the petition drive after volunteering to take elderly voters to polls this November. Weiss recounted stories of elderly voters who had trouble seeing the screen or who accidentally touched the wrong candidate and wouldn’t have caught their mistakes had he not been there to help. “I am launching this initiative because I firmly believe that the choices of every American should be seen as sacred. Voters are entitled to leave the polls with confidence that their votes will be cast and counted properly, unfortunately post-election polls shows 25% of the people in this state don’t feel that way.”

Weiss originally attempted to get an Emergency Hearing on his case on December 14th so he could collect signatures during the busy holiday season, but instead the county was given 20 days to respond to his filing. “I was hoping to have people do petition signings at holiday parties, football and basketball games, and of course at the mall, but the county attorney once again chose to try to duck the issue.” As a result he has petitioned to amend his filing to allow the suit to go forward and the county attorney’s office has filed for a dismissal on grounds that they are not an entity and so they can’t be sued. “They seem to think they have absolute power over there, however, if they are going to interpret the laws of the county they should expect that their work is subject to legal review by a court of law” Weiss stated with resolve. Weiss also requested an opinion from the office of the Secretary of State, which concluded that his petition would not represent a conflict with the existing powers of the Secretary under State Law. “Now that the county attorney can’t hide behind their original excuse, it will be interesting to see how they explain their right to silence the people’s voice.”


© Copyright 1/15/05 by Arnold Weiss. Permission is granted for reprint in print, email, blog, or web media if this credit is attached and the title remains unchanged.



FAIR USE NOTICE: This site contains copyrighted articles and information about environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. This news and information is displayed without profit for educational purposes, in accordance with, Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 of the US Copyright Law. Thepeoplesvoice.org is a non-advocacy internet web site, edited by non-affiliated U.S. citizens. editor