Justices agree to decide ballot fight on county offices

By The News Service of Florida
News Service of Florida

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The Florida Supreme Court on Tuesday unanimously agreed to take up a challenge to a proposed ballot measure that has drawn opposition from some counties.

Justices issued an order accepting the case, though they put off a decision about whether they will hold oral arguments.

The order came a day after the 1st District Court of Appeal quickly sent the case to the Supreme Court. The appeals court pointed to a “question of great public importance” that it said needs “immediate resolution by the Supreme Court of Florida.”

The case stems from a proposed constitutional amendment that the state Constitution Revision Commission placed on the Nov. 6 ballot.

The measure, known as Amendment 10, would make the five local constitutional offices -- sheriff, tax collector, supervisor of elections, clerk of the court and property appraiser -- mandatory and require elections for the offices in all 67 counties. It would also prohibit charter counties from abolishing or modifying those offices.

Charter counties have opposed the amendment, arguing that local voters through the charter process should have the power to decide how constitutional offices are structured and whether they should be elected positions.

Challenges filed in Leon County circuit court argued that the ballot language and summary were misleading and that, as a result, the proposal should not go to voters.

But Circuit Judge James Shelfer last week rejected those arguments, prompting Volusia, Miami-Dade and Broward counties to file notices of appeal Friday at the 1st District Court of Appeal, according to online dockets.

The appeals court, instead of following the usual process of considering the issue, essentially forwarded it to the Supreme Court.

Ballots for the November election will begin to be sent out to voters next month.

News Service of Florida