§ 102.168 Contest of election.
Overview of Statute
This statute governs the procedure by which elections can be contested. The certification of an election can be contested in circuit court by an unsuccessful candidate, a qualified voter, and any taxpayer. The contestant has 10 days after midnight on the date of the certification. There are four grounds for contesting an election, and the canvassing board, the Elections Canvassing Commission, and the successful candidate can all be indispensable parties, depending on which type of election is being contested.
(1) Except as provided in s. 102.171, the certification of election or nomination of any person to office, or of the result on any question submitted by referendum, may be contested in the circuit court by any unsuccessful candidate for such office or nomination thereto or by any elector qualified to vote in the election related to such candidacy, or by any taxpayer, respectively.
(3) The complaint shall set forth the grounds on which the contestant intends to establish his or her right to such office or set aside the result of the election on a submitted referendum. The grounds for contesting an election under this section are:
The Florida House and Senate are the sole judges of the qualifications, elections and returns of their members. Accordingly, the provisions of this section do not apply to an election contest involving legislative office.
1. Definition for Issue
A proposition that is required by the State Constitution, by law or resolution of the Legislature, or by the charter, ordinance, or resolution of a political subdivision of this state to be submitted to the electors for their approval or rejection at an election, or a proposition for which a petition is circulated in order to have such proposition placed on the ballot at an election. Fla. Stat. § 106.011(13).
2. Definition for Ballot
As used in the Electronic Voting Systems Act, ballot means the card, tape, or other vehicle upon which the elector’s choices are recorded. Fla. Stat. § 101.5603(2).
3. Definition for Person
An individual or a corporation, association, firm, partnership, joint venture, joint stock company, club, organization, estate, trust, business trust, syndicate, or other combination of individuals having collective capacity. The term includes a political party, affiliated party committee, or political committee. Fla. Stat. § 106.011(14).
4. Definition for Elector
“Elector” is synonymous with the word “voter” or “qualified elector or voter,” except where the word is used to describe presidential electors. Fla. Stat. § 97.021(15).
5. Definition for Election
Any primary election, special primary election, special election, general election, or presidential preference primary election. Fla. Stat. § 97.021(12).
6. Definition for Candidate
Any person to whom any one or more of the following applies:
Case Name: Gore v. Harris
Citation: 773 So.2d 524
Case Summary: Gore v. Harris held that because adequate standards for a manual recount could not be developed by the deadline set by the United States Supreme Court, appellants Gore and Lieberman were given no relief.
Case Name: Greene v. Clemens
Citation: 98 So.3d 791
Case Summary: When a candidate and two electors filed a complaint to contest the results of a state senate primary election, the Circuit Court upheld the result of the election. On appeal, the appellate court held that the Circuit Court's authority on the matter extended only to the review of electors' signatures on voter certificates and elector signatures in registration records to determine whether the canvassing board abused its discretion.
Case Name: Burns v. Tondreau
Citation: 139 So.3d 481
Case Summary: Burns v. Tondreau held that courts have no inherent power to determine election contests and do not have jurisdiction to look into a candidate's qualifications to run for office after the candidate has been elected; the time to challenge a candidate's qualifications is before an election, not after; but section 102.168 authorized post-election challenges involving the eligibility of successful candidates, so the trial court did have subject matter jurisdiction in the case.
Case Name: Henderson v. Johnson
Citation: 97 So.3d 946
Case Summary: Henderson v. Johnson held that under 102.168, election contest complaints have to be filed within 10 days after midnight of the date the final board responsible for certifying the results officially certified them. Since the unsuccessful candidate in this case filed his complaint 10 days after the election, his complaint was timely.
Case Name: Bush v. Gore
Citation: 531 U.S. 98
Federal District Court: Eastern District of Virginia
Case Summary: Bush v. Gore held that Florida's recount procedures were inconsistent with the minimum procedures necessary to protect the fundamental right of each voter in the instance of a statewide recount under the authority of a single state judicial officer.
Regulations & Guidance
Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 194, Generally
Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 197, Grounds for contesting election
Fla. Jur. 2d Limitations and Laches s 108, Amendment as to plaintiff
Federal Civil Rights Act s 2:67, Constitutional issues concerning the Voting Rights Act – The voting rights ramifications of Bush v. Gore
Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 89, Generally
Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 179, Generally; canvassing commission and boards
Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 195, Nature of election contest; jurisdiction and venue
Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 196, Parties
Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 196, Parties
Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 198, Complaint; answer
Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 199, Hearing and evidence
Validity, Construction and Application of State Statutory Limitations Periods Governing Election Contests, 60 A.L.R.6th 481
Construction and Application of Statutes and Ordinances Concerning Establishment of Residency, as Condition for Running for Municipal Office, 74 A.L.R.6th 209