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§ 105.036 Initiative for method of selection for circuit or county court judges; procedures for placement on ballot.

Overview of Statute

This statute governs an alternative method for placement on the ballot for circuit and county court judges. Post-2000, local options for merit selection and retention, as well as election, of circuit or county court judges can be placed on the ballot for the general election occurring more than 90 days from the certification of ballot position. The ballot can provide for a vote on how to select judges not currently used in the county or circuit.

Certification of ballot position for the method of selection will be issued after the Secretary of State has gotten a verification certificate from the supervisors of elections in a particular circuit for circuit court judges, and a county for county court judges, that states that the right number of signatures has been submitted and verified. All signatures must be dated, and are valid for two years.

Sponsors of initiatives for merit selection and retention or election of judges must register as political committees, and the Secretary of State is responsible for adopting rules for the collection of signatures.

Sponsors have until 5 PM on the 151st day before the general election to submit signed and dated forms to the supervisors of elections stating the number of signatures. The supervisor then verifies the signatures after the sponsors pay the fee or file the undue burden oath. The supervisors must be done with verification by the 91st day before the general election. After the supervisors are done, they must submit the certification of signatures to the Secretary of State.

Once the Secretary of State or the supervisors determine that the right number of signatures were obtained, there must be a certification of ballot position. Requests to exercise local options are filed upon the date of receipt of certificate(s) that indicates that the petition has been signed by the right number of voters.

The Secretary of State has 10 days after a general election to notify the Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court that the method for selecting the judges has changed if the initiative passes.

Statute

(1) Subsequent to the general election in the year 2000, a local option for merit selection and retention or the election of circuit or county court judges may be placed on the ballot for the general election occurring in excess of 90 days from the certification of ballot position by the Secretary of State for circuit court judges or the county supervisor of elections for county court judges. The ballot shall provide for a vote on the method for selection of judges not currently used for filling judicial offices in the county or circuit.

(2) Certification of ballot position for the method of selection of circuit court judges shall be issued when the Secretary of State has received a verification certificate from each supervisor of elections in a circuit indicating that the requisite number of valid signatures of electors in the circuit has been submitted and verified by the supervisor or supervisors of that circuit. Certification of ballot position for the method of selection of county court judges shall be issued when the supervisor of elections in a county indicates that the requisite number of signatures of electors in the county has been submitted to and verified by the supervisor. Each signature shall be dated when made and shall be valid for a period of 2 years following such date, provided all requirements of law are complied with.
(3) The sponsor of an initiative for merit selection and retention or election of circuit or county court judges must register as a political committee pursuant to s. 106.03.
(4) The Secretary of State shall adopt rules pursuant to ss. 120.536(1) and 120.54 prescribing the style and requirements of the circuit court and county court forms for collection of signatures.
(5) No later than 5 p.m. 151 days prior to the general election at which the proposed judicial selection initiative is to be voted on, the sponsor shall submit signed and dated forms to the appropriate supervisor of elections for verification as to the number of registered electors whose valid signatures appear thereon. The supervisor shall promptly verify the signatures upon payment of the fee or filing of the undue burden oath required by s. 99.097. Verification must be completed at least 91 days prior to the general election. Upon completion of verification, the supervisor shall execute a certificate indicating the total number of signatures checked and the number of signatures verified as valid and as being of registered electors of the applicable county or circuit. This certificate must be immediately transmitted to the Secretary of State for petitions related to the method of selection of circuit court judges. The supervisor must retain the signature forms for at least 1 year following the election in which the issue appeared on the ballot or until the committee that circulated the petition is no longer seeking to obtain ballot position as determined by the Division of Elections for circuit court petitions or by the supervisor of elections for county court petitions.
(6) Upon a determination by the Secretary of State for circuit court petitions or by the supervisor of elections for county court petitions that the requisite number of valid signatures has been obtained, a certification of ballot position must be issued for the proposed method of selection of judges. A request to exercise a local option to change the method for selection of circuit or county court judges is deemed filed with the Secretary of State for circuit court judges or the supervisor of elections for county court judges upon the date of the receipt of a certificate or certificates indicating the petition has been signed by the constitutionally required number of electors.
(7) Within 10 days after each general election for which an initiative to change the method of selection of circuit or county court judges was placed on the ballot in any circuit or county in the state, the Secretary of State must notify the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Florida of the changed method for selection of judges for any circuit or county where the initiative passed.
(8) The Department of State shall have the authority to promulgate rules in accordance with ss.120.536(1) and 120.54 to carry out the provisions of this section.

History:

s. 9, ch. 99-355.

Definition [Department]

The Department of State.

Definition [Supervisor]

The supervisor of elections.

Definition [Judicial Office]

Includes the office of:

(a) Justice of the Supreme Court.

(b) Judge of a district court of appeal.

(c) Judge of a circuit court.

(d) County court judge.

A judicial office is a nonpartisan office, and a candidate for election or retention thereto is prohibited from campaigning or qualifying for such an office based on party affiliation.

Definition [General Election]

An election held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November in the even-numbered years, for the purpose of filling national, state, county, and district offices and for voting on constitutional amendments not otherwise provided for by law.

Definition [Political Committee]

1. A combination of two or more individuals, or a person other than an individual, that, in an aggregate amount in excess of $500 during a single calendar year:

a. Accepts contributions for the purpose of making contributions to any candidate, political committee, affiliated party committee, or political party;

b. Accepts contributions for the purpose of expressly advocating the election or defeat of a candidate or the passage or defeat of an issue;

c. Makes expenditures that expressly advocate the election or defeat of a candidate or the passage or defeat of an issue; or

d. Makes contributions to a common fund, other than a joint checking account between spouses, from which contributions are made to any candidate, political committee, affiliated party committee, or political party;

2. The sponsor of a proposed constitutional amendment by initiative who intends to seek the signatures of registered electors.

(b) Notwithstanding paragraph (a), the following entities are not considered political committees for purposes of this chapter:

1. National political parties, the state and county executive committees of political parties, and affiliated party committees regulated by chapter 103.

2. Corporations regulated by chapter 607 or chapter 617 or other business entities formed for purposes other than to support or oppose issues or candidates, if their political activities are limited to contributions to candidates, political parties, affiliated party committees, or political committees or expenditures in support of or opposition to an issue from corporate or business funds and if no contributions are received by such corporations or business entities.

3. Electioneering communications organizations as defined in subsection (9).

 

Definition [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.

Definition [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.

Definition [Elector]

“Elector” is synonymous with the word “voter” or “qualified elector or voter,” except where the word is used to describe presidential electors.

Definition [Division]

The Division of Elections of the Department of State.

Definition [Election]

Any primary election, special primary election, special election, general election, or presidential preference primary election.

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