Fwd: Re: The Pending Deadline and the Fl S. Crt.

Howard Gillman gillman at USC.EDU
Mon Nov 13 13:32:12 PST 2000

This was sent to me by a student.  Might be of interest.  HG

>  State v. Martinez 536 So.2d 1007 Fla. S Crt  (1988)
>STATE of Florida on the Relation of Bill CHAPPELL, Jr., Petitioner,
>Bob MARTINEZ, et al., etc., Respondents.
>Dec. 8, 1988.
>McDONALD, Justice.
>Bill Chappell, Jr., a resident, taxpayer, and elector from Volusia County,
>Florida, petitions for a writ of mandamus and temporary injunctive relief. We
>have jurisdiction pursuant to article V, section 3(b)(8), Florida
>Constitution. Chappell, an unsuccessful candidate for election to the United
>States House of Representatives in the November 8, 1988 election, asks that
>we direct the Florida Elections Canvassing Commission to disregard the votes
>cast in Flagler County, to declare the winner of the seat at issue here
>without the Flagler County votes, and to enjoin certification of that winner
>to Congress until further order of this Court. We find that the Flagler
>County Canvassing Board substantially complied with section 102.111, Florida
>Statutes (1987), and, therefore, deny the requested relief.
>In the November 8, 1988 general election Craig James received 125,467 votes
>and Chappell received 124,735 in the race for Florida's Fourth Congressional
>District. Because less than one-half of one percent of the votes cast
>separated the candidates, the votes had to be recounted pursuant to section
>102.141, Florida Statutes (1987). Section 102.111, Florida Statutes (1987),
>provides that county canvassing boards shall forward election results to the
>Department of State immediately after certifying those results. The statute
>further states: "If the county returns are not received by the Department of
>State by 5 p.m. of the seventh day following an election, all missing
>counties shall be ignored, and the results shown by the returns on file shall
>be certified [by the State Election Canvassing Commission]." Five of the six
>counties in the Fourth Congressional District certified the results of the
>election and recount by 5:00 p.m., November 15, the seventh day after the
>election. The Flagler County Canvassing Board's original certificate,
>however, did not reach the Department of State until November 17, 1988.
>Chappell, therefore, argues that section 102.111 mandates that the Flagler
>County votes not be counted and that he be declared the winner of the
>Congressional seat because, without the 11,000 Flagler County votes, his
>tally is more than two hundred votes greater than his opponent's. As pointed
>out in response, however, the Flagler County Canvassing Board informed the
>Department of State of the results of the recount by telephone on November
>14. Moreover, the Department of State received a facsimile telecopy of the
>written certificate early on November 16.
>Contrary to Chappell's claim, we do not find that section 102.111's "all
>missing counties" language turns the certification process into "an
>imperative, ministerial" duty, "involving no judgment on the part" of the
>state canvassing commission. The statute says that returns shall be received
>by 5:00 p.m. of the seventh day after the election. The Department of State
>received Flagler County's returns on November 14. Granted, the returns
>arrived telephonically, rather than in writing, but section 102.111 does not
>explicitly require that the returns be in writing.
>In Boardman v. Esteva, 323 So.2d 259 (Fla.1975), cert. denied, 425 U.S. 967,
>96 S.Ct. 2162, 48 L.Ed.2d 791 (1976), this Court considered a suit to keep
>absentee ballots from being counted. The Court concluded that the
>electorate's effecting its will through its balloting, not the hypertechnical
>compliance with statutes, is the object of holding an election. "There is no
>magic in the statutory requirements. If they are complied with to the extent
>that *1009 the duly responsible election officials can ascertain that the
>electors whose votes are being canvassed are qualified and registered to
>vote, and that they do so in a proper manner, then who can be heard to
>complain that the statute has not been literally and absolutely complied
>with?" Id. at 267.
>There has been substantial, and perhaps complete, compliance with section
>102.111. Chappell has presented no compelling reason for disenfranchising the
>11,000 residents of Flagler County who cast their ballots on November 8. We
>therefore deny the petition for writ of mandamus and any other relief sought
>in this case. [FN*]
>FN* Because we find substantial compliance sufficient in this case, we do not
>address the issue of mandatory/directory construction or the
>constitutionality of the election statutes.
>It is so ordered.

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