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Judge Rejects Florida Law That Put Republicans First on Ballots

November 18th, 2019 by Jake Stofan

A federal court ruling could change up the order candidates appear on the ballot.

Republicans have been listed first for the last two decades because they’ve controlled the Governor’s Mansion, but Democrats argued it’s put them at a disadvantage because of something called the primacy effect, which is the tendency for people to choose something that appears first.

Former Leon County Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho said appearing first has a measurable advantage.

“When you have a law that gives one party a one and a half to five percent advantage in every election at some point you have to say that’s not fair,” said Sancho.

Evan Power, who serves as the Chair of Chairs for the Republican Party of Florida, believes the advantage is exaggerated.

“When it was enacted by Democrats, Democrats were winning and then the state was taken over by Republicans. So obviously a five percent effect would never have allowed that to occur,” said Power.

But a Federal Judge has struck down the law, siding with Democrats who filed suit earlier this year.

Power called the ruling partisan.

“It was good policy. It was passed by Democrats 70 years ago and hasn’t posed a problem until now that the Democrats have become very litigious on every election point,” said Power.

The judge didn’t tell the state how to fix the problem.

That falls on the Florida Legislature.

While Sancho said there are many examples of ballot rotation in other states, he doesn’t expect the Republican controlled House and Senate to act any time soon.

“The Republican leadership will essentially do what they have done over the last decade, which is dig their heels in the sand,” said Sancho.

The Governor’s Office has confirmed it will appeal the ruling, which means Republicans will likely still appear first on the ballot in 2020.

The federal judge gave Florida’s Secretary of State three weeks to come up with a new plan, but the state will likely attempt to have the ruling put on hold before then.

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