ICYMI: Polk County elects Florida’s first openly gay school board member and more

ICYMI: Polk County elects Florida’s first openly gay school board member and more

Florida Supreme Court weighs process to pick new justices: In a hearing last week, the League of Women Voters of Florida and Common Cause asked the Supreme Court to order a nominating commission to extend an application deadline and halt the current nomination process following a court order issued last month. The Supreme Court unanimously ruled Oct. 15 that the next governor has the "sole authority" to appoint replacements. After last week's election, Republican Ron DeSantis is in line to succeed Gov. Rick Scott in early January, if the recount in the gubernatorial race proves the two-term congressman to be the winner.

Bill Nelson's lawyers are challenging Florida's election signature law: The Nelson campaign filed a lawsuit against the Florida Secretary of State over vote-by-mail ballots and the process used to validate them. The legal challenge takes on a law that requires county election officials to double-check signatures of voters who cast provisional and mail-in ballots. If the signature on the envelope doesn't match state records, the vote is rejected. A lawyer with the Nelson campaign called the process "an outright disenfranchisement." He noted that the law designates untrained elections workers the responsibility of reviewing signatures, none of whom are qualified to do so.

Central Florida remembers 1920 Election Day lynching with voting stickers: In the midst of a historic midterm election, Central Floridians left voting stickers on the grave of Julius "July" Perry, an African American man who was shot and lynched by a white mob in Orlando after encouraging Ocoee's black residents to vote in 1920. Perry is buried in the old black section of Orlando's Greenwood Cemetery. Earlier in the week, local advocates organized a ceremony at the grave honoring the "memory and sacrifice" of Perry and left a roll of "I Voted" stickers. Others added their own stickers to the gravestone during Tuesday's midterm election.

Polk County elects Florida's first openly gay school board member: Sarah Fortney, a 34-year veteran of the classroom, became the state's first openly gay member of a school district last night as she bested Publix store manager Scott Jones for the Polk County School Board's District 3 seat. With all precincts reporting, Polk County elections reported that Fortney won 61 percent of the vote, a total of 120,051 ballots. Her opponent, Jones, received 39 percent, a total of 77,451.

Florida voters approve 11 out of 12 constitutional amendments: Felons' voting rights will be restored after they serve their sentences, vaping in workplaces will be illegal and greyhound racing will be banned statewide under a series of constitutional amendments approved last week. The only amendment that fell short of receiving voter approval was Amendment 1, which would increase a homestead property-tax exemption. More than 64 percent of voters approved Amendment 4, intended to restore voting rights to an estimated 1.4 million felons who have completed their sentences. It will not apply to felons convicted of murder and sex offenses.


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