A Tallahassee Circuit Judge has upheld a provision in Florida’s new voting law that blocks candidates from switching parties a year before a general election. Lynn Hatter reports the provision was challenged by a former state Republican lawmaker-turned Independent who wanted to run as a Democrat.
Nancy Argenziano, who also served on the Public Service Commissioner, is running against U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland as a member of Florida’s Independent Party. Argenziano wanted to switch her affiliation to Democrat. However, Florida’s new elections law requires candidates to belong to a party for 17 months before the general election in order to run in that party. Argenziano’s lawyer. Retired Judge Janet Farris, tried to argue that the new law encroached upon Argenziano’s right to run:
“To me, it’s like saying, “we have religious freedom, but if you want to come to Tallahassee you have to be a Methodist. Her right to run for office can’t be so severely circumscribed that the state can dictate what party she can run in, when the party she wants to run in says okay.”
But lawyers for the state said the new changes are nothing new. Citing both federal and state law, Attorney Daniel Norby says Florida has changed the affiliation rules several times, and the courts have always upheld the rules.
“No court has found that a candidate has a fundamental right to run for the nomination for a particular political party. That’s what Ms. Argenziano is asserting here. I’m aware of no cases finding that that particular right so specified, is a fundamental right.”
Argenziano says she’ll most likely stay in the race as an Independent. Other parts of the voting law are also being challenged in state and federal courts. That includes new restrictions on voter registration drives and a reduction in early voting days.