Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Dent's Ballot Cards Miss Their Mark

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Dent's Ballot Cards Miss Their Mark

Article excerpt

Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dent says from time to time she has to nullify improper petitions submitted by candidates trying to get on the ballot.

But last week she was stunned to find out who her latest victim would be.

"I had to reject my own," said Dent, a Republican running for re- election in 2012.

Dent said the Florida Division of Elections informed her and other supervisors of elections that they can only accept petition cards that are exactly like the ones prescribed by the state.

Dent said that means petition cards downloaded from the Internet that did not print out quite right or ones with even the slightest alterations in wording or format on the cards are not allowed now.

For her own re-election bid, Dent said she had petitions that came from cards downloaded from the Internet she had to throw out because they were not exactly as the state wants them.

The ruling means candidates all over the region are being forced to re-gather petitions before the May 7 deadline if they want to qualify by petition rather than pay the $4,000 filing fee for a county office. Sheriff Tom Knight and County Commissioner Jon Thaxton, both Republicans, and county Tax Collector Barbara Ford Coates and County Commission candidate Jennifer Cohen, both Democrats, have had signatures thrown out because of the rule change, Dent said.

Some candidates, such as Cohen, have already given up trying to re-collect 2,600 signatures needed to qualify for a county office. Cohen has told supporters that instead she is just going to pay the filing fee and move on.

Dent said she is upset that the state made the rule interpretation now after so many candidates had already collected signatures.

"My staff is pulling their hair out," Dent said of the headaches it has caused.

No goodbyes yet

Do not expect U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, to say farewell to Bradenton and Palmetto residents yet, even though the state Legislature has passed a redistricting map that would no longer have those areas in her district.

Castor, who has represented parts of Manatee County since she was first elected in 2006, said she is not accepting the changes until the courts approve of the new maps. Castor said until she knows for sure, she is not willing to give up Manatee as part of her district in 2012.

When the Florida Legislature redrew the state's 27 congressional districts, they moved all of Bradenton and Palmetto from Castor's current 11th District to the 16th Congressional District, which U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, is now seeking to represent again.

LeMieux wins again

The East Manatee Republican Club has given U.S. Senate candidate George LeMieux another boost in his bid to win a Republican primary in August.

In a straw poll vote of its members on Thursday, the East Manatee club backed LeMieux with 60 percent of the vote following a debate held with just two of the three top candidates running for the GOP nomination. …

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