SOURCE: Citizens for Broward's Children, Inc.

October 27, 2014 18:33 ET

Confusing Election Ballot in Broward Could Hurt More Than 150,000 Children in the County

Lawsuit Filed Against the Supervisor of Elections Seeks to Clear up Problem Where People Are Voting No When They Really Mean Yes for CSC Re-Authorization

Hearing Set for Tuesday, October 28 at 11:30am in Front of Judge Dale Ross

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL--(Marketwired - October 27, 2014) - Citizens for Broward's Children, the 501(c)4 which is leading the campaign to protect our children, has filed a lawsuit requesting that the Broward Supervisor of Election (SOE) implement an immediate and meaningful solution to help voters to avoid confusion and admitted voter error on the Children's Service Council's (CSC) reauthorization ballot initiative. The item appears on the November 4 ballot.

"Once again, Broward County is becoming the focus of voter confusion and voter error on an election issue directly related to the safety and welfare of our children," said attorney Mike Ryan, who is representing Citizens for Broward's Children pro bono. "The future existence of CSC and the 100 not-for-profits and 150,000 Broward children it supports each year is at risk. The county's children stand to lose $60 million in critical funding."

Because of the faulty ballot designed by the Supervisor of Elections, Broward voters who want to support reauthorization are confused and accidentally voting against it. From a layout standpoint, they think they are voting NO for Constitutional Amendment #3, not the CSC measure.

The Supervisor of Elections office for weeks has been receiving complaints related to voter error related to the construction of the ballot. On page 1A, there are two items in the third column for voters to consider. These ballot questions are placed alongside two columns of full text on other matters. As a result, as is now well known to the Supervisor of Elections, when voters move to the third column, they read Amendment Three at the top and move to the bottom to vote "no". However, the actual voting for Amendment Three is in the middle of column three. Erroneously placing a "no" vote at the bottom of that column thinking the voter was voting "no" on Amendment Three is actually a mistaken "no" vote on CSC Reauthorization.

The cause of voter error has been well known to the SOE for weeks, as they have copies of these ballots and requests for new ballots. In some cases, this has resulted in voters who discovered their error requesting new ballots. More alarming, some voters didn't realize they accidentally voted "no" against CSC, thinking they were voting "no" against Amendment Three, until they left the polling site. It is not known how many more do not even realize their error in voting.

"Regrettably, these voters are disenfranchised and our children are at risk," added Ryan. "Those that realized after they cast their ballot tell me how horrible they feel and worry that their vote may inadvertently lead to the end of incredibly important programs for our children."

Citizens for Broward's Children proposed a solution to help provide better and unbiased guidance to voters. However, the SOE's lawyers have refused a plan that would have (a) provided specific notice to every voter that there are four items on page 1A and two of those items are in column three; (b) provide specific notice to absentee ballot holders. Instead, the SOE has chosen to place an inadequate general notice somewhere in the precinct against the backdrop of campaign signs and other notices.

"Voting accuracy must be a priority," said Howard Talenfeld, co-chair of Citizens for Broward's Children. "Unfortunately, lawyers for the SOE are allowing this voter confusion and error to continue without addressing the root cause. We call upon the community to demand from the SOE a better notice to voters to protect the right to vote and ensure accurate voting on CSC Reauthorization," added Talenfeld.

In the meantime, CSC is requesting all voters send their complaints to the SOE's office at 115. South Andrews Avenue, Room 102, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301 and/or contact CBC directly at info@citizensforbrowardschildren.com.

Broward's Children's Services Council serves 150,000 Broward children BY SUPPORTING 100 well-known not-for-profits with an annual budget of more than $60 million. It is up for reauthorization during this election cycle. Its reauthorization has been endorsed by almost every community business and civic organization, and it has received the editorial support of the Sun Sentinel and the Herald.

About Citizens for Broward's Children, Inc.

The Citizens for Broward's Children is a countywide group of community, business, civic and political organizations and leaders who are working together to support the reauthorization of the Children's Services Council of Broward County. Citizens for Broward's Children was created by a group of concerned Broward County residents who want to ensure the Children's Services Council is reauthorized by voters in the 2014 Election. Membership in Citizens for Broward's Children is free and open to anyone who shares our goal of supporting the reauthorization of the Broward County Children's Services Council.

About The Children's Services Council of Broward County (CSC):
The CSC is an independent special district established by Broward County voters in 2000. On average, the Children's Services Council gets less than 2 cents of every dollar paid in property taxes. Those tax dollars are solely dedicated to providing money for a wide variety of programs designed to help every child lead a healthy, safe and productive life. These programs are delivered by over 100 "provider" agencies throughout the county. To ensure accountability to the Broward taxpayer, funded programs have clearly defined goals, outcomes and measures and are regularly monitored for program quality and performance and administrative accountability.

The Children's Services Council provides the leadership, advocacy and resources necessary to enhance children's lives and empower them to become responsible, productive adults through collaborative planning and funding of a continuum of quality care. For more log on to www.cscbroward.org.

Attachment Available: http://www.marketwire.com/library/MwGo/2014/10/27/11G024747/MultimediaAsset1-635996612.pdf

Contact Information

Multimedia