Miami-Dade Legislative Item
File Number: 110692
   Clerk's Official Copy   

File Number: 110692 File Type: Resolution Status: Adopted
Version: 0 Reference: R-219-11 Control:
File Name: RECALL SHALL NO LONGER REQUIRE A SWORN AFFIDAVIT Introduced: 3/25/2011
Requester: NONE Cost: Final Action: 3/24/2011
Agenda Date: 3/24/2011 Agenda Item Number:
Notes: SPECIAL ITEM NO. 21 [THIS IS FINAL VERSION AS ADOPTED; ALSO SEE 110672] Title: RESOLUTION CALLING A COUNTYWIDE SPECIAL ELECTION IN MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA, IN CONJUNCTION WITH A PRIMARY ELECTION TO BE HELD ON TUESDAY, MAY 24, 2011, FOR THE PURPOSE OF SUBMITTING TO THE ELECTORS OF MIAMI-DADE COUNTY THE QUESTION OF WHETHER TO AMEND THE HOME RULE CHARTER TO PROVIDE THAT PETITIONS FOR CHARTER AMENDMENT, INITIATIVE, REFERENDUM AND RECALL SHALL NO LONGER REQUIRE A SWORN AFFIDAVIT OF A CIRCULATOR AND SHALL INSTEAD ONLY REQUIRE THE NAME AND ADDRESS OF A CIRCULATOR [SEE ORIGINAL ITEM UNDER FILE NO. 110672]
Indexes: HOME RULE CHARTER
  SPECIAL ELECTION
Sponsors: Joe A. Martinez, Prime Sponsor
  Bruno A. Barreiro, Co-Sponsor
  Lynda Bell, Co-Sponsor
  Jose "Pepe" Diaz, Co-Sponsor
  Audrey M. Edmonson, Co-Sponsor
  Carlos A. Gimenez, Co-Sponsor
  Sally A. Heyman, Co-Sponsor
  Barbara J. Jordan, Co-Sponsor
  Jean Monestime, Co-Sponsor
  Rebeca Sosa, Co-Sponsor
  Sen. Javier D. Souto, Co-Sponsor
  Dennis C. Moss, Co-Sponsor
Sunset Provision: No Effective Date: Expiration Date:
Registered Lobbyist: None Listed


Legislative History

Acting Body Date Agenda Item Action Sent To Due Date Returned Pass/Fail

County Attorney 3/25/2011 Assigned Geri Bonzon-Keenan

Board of County Commissioners 3/24/2011 Special Item No. 21 Amended Adopted as amended P
REPORT: Commissioner Heyman noted she supported the foregoing proposed resolution that would eliminate petition circulators to provide sworn affidavits. She suggested combining the language contained in Special Item No. 15 into this item. Commissioner Heyman noted that the current one signature per page requirement was against green initiatives, sustainability and common sense. She said that the objective was for people to understand the petition; to obtain legitimate signatures that could be properly certified; and to obtain a signature that was part of the subject matter. Chairman Martinez noted it was his intention for the County’s signature gathering process to mirror that utilized by the State; however, he believed that the County’s process had additional requirements. Mr. Lester Sola, Supervisor of Elections, Miami-Dade Elections Department, responded that the State’s signature gathering process provided for obtaining the voters identification and the verification of his/her signature. He noted the identification criteria included obtaining the voters name, address, date of birth or voter registration number, and signature. Mr. Sola said that Summary 12-23 of the Miami-Dade County Code currently required that the petition contained one signature per page; that the petition was notarized; that the petition contained complete text language; and that the petition included the circulator’s statement who witnessed the signing of the petition. Assistant County Attorney Oren Rosenthal informed the Board that the County Code required that the full text be included on the petition in three languages which was not a State requirement. He confirmed that the State did not require the circulator affidavit that they witnessed the completion of the petition; however, they required the circulator’s name and address. Commissioner Barreiro asked whether a provision had been considered to gather petition signatures electronically. Mr. Sola responded that neither the County nor the State currently possessed this capability. He noted; however, that information was submitted electronically once the County validated a petition for the State. Commissioner Barreiro noted that Oregon and other states possessed this capability. Chairman Martinez expressed concern whether an item could be included in the Charter which the County did not have the ability to implement. Chairman Martinez asked Mr. Harvey Ruvin, Clerk of the Courts, whether he would be prepared to accept electronic petitions. Mr. Ruvin informed the Board that it was his opinion that an electronic petition provision should not be included in the Charter. He noted that that the number of signatures per page and the petition process was currently outlined by Ordinance. Mr. Ruvin said that he would propose an Ordinance revision based upon issues discovered in the recent recall process. He noted that although the future was leading toward an electronic democracy, the process must be carefully addressed before provisions were included in the Charter. Mr. Ruvin recommended the petition process remain as an Ordinance in order to provide the flexibility needed to monitor its implementation and to make modifications based upon feedback. Commissioner Diaz noted his agreement with simplifying the petition while ensuring that the people understood what they were signing. He said the three languages were important, especially when considering the elderly population. In response to Commissioner Diaz’ inquiry, Mr. Sola clarified that it was easier for the Elections Department to validate one voter per page and that the State validated petitions in that manner. Commissioner Diaz questioned what other burden would exist for the County by not mirroring the State. Mr. Sola responded that in addition to the language requirement, the County required the circulator’s information and a sworn statement. Commissioner Diaz said the circulator’s information could be eliminated provided that his/her signature was verified. He questioned whether removing the sworn statement would reduce expenses for the petition gatherers. Chairman Martinez noted he was advised the State of Florida required obtaining the name and address of the circulator on petitions. Mr. Sola responded that the circulator must register with the State. Commissioner Diaz noted the intent was to ensure there were no fraudulent signatures. He said that, he was satisfied with eliminating the notary requirement in order to reduce expenses as long as proper signature verifications were performed. Mr. Sola said that the circulator paid the County $ .10 per voter; however, he was not aware of the amount being paid to gather signatures. He noted at the State level the fee was $ .10 per page, irregardless of the number of voters on the page. Commissioner Diaz noted his preference was that petitions contained one circulator signature per page and that it contained verbiage in three languages. Chairman Martinez noted that Mr. Ruvin recommended not placing the provision in the Charter. He said that changing the existing ordinance would give the public more input through a public hearing than they would have with a Charter revision. Chairman Martinez noted his intention to withdraw the foregoing proposed resolution. Commissioner Heyman withdrew Special Item No. 15. Chairman Martinez noted he would schedule a Sunshine Meeting with Commissioner Diaz and the Supervisor of Elections to draft an ordinance that would eliminate the circulator affidavit. Mr. Ruvin noted he would participate in that meeting in order to provide information obtained through the recent recall which would be helpful to this process. Chairman Martinez noted he would like the Board to engage in additional discussion before a final decision was made on withdrawing the foregoing proposed resolution. Commissioner Gimenez noted the requirements were currently contained in an ordinance and that it was that ordinance which caused the problem. He said the ordinance could be undone and revisions made to make it easier for the public to petition their government; however, any future Commission could reinstate these burdensome requirements and make it even harder to petition their government. Commissioner Gimenez said the Charter Review Committee believed it was important to include it in the Charter so that a future commission could not make it harder for the people to petition their government. He noted that Commissioner Martinez’ solution removed the notary requirement and Commissioner Heyman’s solution called for multiple signatures per page. Commissioner Gimenez noted that the three language requirement should remain. He said the decision needed to go back to the people. Chairman Martinez concurred with Commissioner Gimenez; however, noted that the Board needed to gather information about the existing problems with the Ordinance as indicated by Mr. Ruvin and whether the Ordinance needed to be revised. Commissioner Gimenez asked Mr. Ruvin several questions related to the Ordinance. Mr. Ruvin responded that the Board added the notarization requirement after widespread circulator fraud became an issue. He noted that a process was developed that addressed multiple signatures per page. Mr. Ruvin said that the circulator would need to certify that he/she personally witnessed each signature contained on that page. Commissioner Gimenez said that the affidavit requirement made it more difficult for the public to petition government because it became more expensive. He questioned whether the State had that requirement. Mr. Ruvin responded he was not familiar with the State criteria. He also noted that he was involved because the County did not have an elected Supervisor of Elections and the Charter made the Clerk of the Courts the only other independent elected officer. Mr. Sola responded that the State did not require the notary affidavit. Commissioner Gimenez noted the process needed to be simplified and the people be given a voice. He recommended a Charter revision removing the notary affidavit and allowing multiple signatures per page so that future Boards could not make any changes. Commissioner Gimenez said he believed it was implied that more than one signature per page already existed in the current Charter inasmuch as the current language was plural and read “signors” and that the Board could be in violation of its Charter. Mr. Ruvin said the ordinance had aspects which could have been either scrivener’s errors or intended. He said the inclusion of two items identified as Section 4 was a scrivener’s error and another instance where it referenced Section 2 instead of Section 1. He said that when considering complex issues such as electronic signatures, it was prudent to think those issues through and to include them in a form which allowed feedback on solutions to determine whether or not it required modification. Mr. Ruvin stressed the importance of ensuring the public always had a clear voice; however, noted it was important that the Board did not remove its flexibility to implement its mandates. Commissioner Gimenez noted that he was presenting the recommendation of the Charter Review Commission. He said it was his intention to remove the obstacles which made it almost impossible for people in this County to petition their government. Commissioner Gimenez noted that the process of one signature per page and notarizing every page was an impediment which needed to be eliminated. He said that everything else could be accomplished by ordinance. Commissioner Monestime questioned whether using bar coding would facilitate the identification of signatures. Mr. Sola responded that he was not aware of any process where a circulator or petitioner was using bar coding for validation purposes. He noted the Department used bar coding to access the voter file and to compare signatures electronically. Mr. Sola then responded to Commissioner Monestime’s inquiry that signature verification could be expedited in the event that the circulator was able to purchase an alphabetical list from the County which contained a bar code for each voter. Commissioner Moss questioned whether having a notarized signature would make any difference in a court of law in instances of misrepresentation and also posed other questions related to this process. Assistant County Attorney Rosenthal responded to Commissioner Moss that the circulator would be signing under penalty of perjury that he/she collected those signatures from those individuals identified on the petition form, and as a result, if the circulator was lying, he/she would be subject to criminal sanction. He noted that if the petition was not notarized, the circulator could claim he/she did not sign the affidavit. Assistant County Attorney Rosenthal said the notary was an extra level of protection by verifying the identity of the circulator signing the affidavit stating he/she circulated the collected signatures by either personal knowledge or identification. He concurred with Mr. Ruvin that as a result of previous instances of fraud, the Board increased the level of protection by including the notary requirement in the ordinance. Commissioner Moss noted there would be less protection against fraud without the notary signature. He questioned whether the circulator and notary could sign several petitions on a single page rather than one per page. Assistant County Attorney Rosenthal responded that one signature per page would require more notarizations than with five signatures per page and the notary only had to notarize one circulator for those five instead of five under the one signature per page requirement. He then responded to Commissioner Moss that he was not currently aware of any specific cases relating to the prosecution of circulator fraud and would look into this issue. Commissioner Heyman noted that barriers should not be created limiting the right to petition government. She said the Board would soon convene to develop recommendations for the 2012 election inasmuch as it already supported having a Charter Review Task Force every four years in conjunction with the Presidential election. Commissioner Heyman noted more than one signature per page could be accommodated while addressing the issues of fraud and accountability. She said the issue related to individuals understanding the subject matter of petitions had already been addressed at the State and County level. Commissioner Heyman supported a workshop to consider all potential issues that could then be forwarded to the Charter Review Commission. Chairman Martinez asked and Commissioner Heyman accepted his request for her to leave her proposed resolution on the table and to decide whether to withdraw it at the end of this discussion. Commissioner Diaz noted that a Charter revision would limit the decision making power of the current and future Board. He said he believed that the system worked and the recent recall effort was carried out correctly inasmuch as he did not hear of any complaints; however, he questioned whether there was any fraud arrests related to that process. Mr. Sola responded that he was not aware of any fraud arrests. Commissioner Diaz said it was the citizens’ right to petition government; however, many counties did not provide that right and the State government did not allow a recall of a State official. He said it would be a disservice to not gather sufficient information from Mr. Ruvin and the public. Commissioner Bell noted that the suggested revisions were well thought out and had merit. She supported further discussion on these provisions in order to vote on the item and to keep the item on the ballot. Commissioner Sosa concurred with placing the question on the ballot. She noted the County should mirror the State and when the State changed its rules, those changes would apply to the County. Commissioner Sosa said the only difference would be the three language requirement. Chairman Martinez questioned whether the proposed language was sufficient or whether it should be rewritten to indicate that it mirrored the State requirements. County Attorney Robert Cuevas responded that the melding of Special Items 15 and 21 would express the Board’s intent. He said that an appropriate ballot question could be prepared. Assistant County Attorney Rosenthal read the proposed ballot question into the record. Chairman Martinez noted that the language as read by Assistant County Attorney Rosenthal did not adhere to the State language inasmuch as it allowed for multiple signatures per page, with the exception of the inclusion of three languages. County Attorney Cuevas advised the Board that the proposed language included proscriptions being included in the Charter indicating what could not be done. Assistant County Attorney Rosenthal said that the State prohibited more than one signature per page; however, Special Item No. 21 did not include this prohibition. He noted the language as written materially mirrored the State language when considering both the Charter and Ordinance revisions. Commissioner Gimenez noted that Special Item No. 21 was sufficient as currently written and that the three language requirement and the number of signatures per page could be addressed by ordinance. Commissioner Heyman noted she supported Special Item No. 21. She withdrew Special Item No. 15. Commissioner Martinez withdrew Special Item No. 9. There being no further questions or comments, the Board proceeded to vote on the foregoing resolution as amended to include the election date to be decided upon later in the meeting. Later in the meeting, it was moved by Commissioner Sosa that the Special Election on the proposed Charter Amendment be held on May 24, 2011. This motion was seconded by Commissioner Heyman, and upon being put to a vote, passed by a vote of 12-0.

Legislative Text


TITLE
RESOLUTION CALLING A COUNTYWIDE SPECIAL ELECTION IN MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA, IN CONJUNCTION WITH A PRIMARY ELECTION TO BE HELD ON TUESDAY, MAY 24, 2011, FOR THE PURPOSE OF SUBMITTING TO THE ELECTORS OF MIAMI-DADE COUNTY THE QUESTION OF WHETHER TO AMEND THE HOME RULE CHARTER TO PROVIDE THAT PETITIONS FOR CHARTER AMENDMENT, INITIATIVE, REFERENDUM AND RECALL SHALL NO LONGER REQUIRE A SWORN AFFIDAVIT OF A CIRCULATOR AND SHALL INSTEAD ONLY REQUIRE THE NAME AND ADDRESS OF A CIRCULATOR

BODY


BE IT RESOLVED BY THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA:
Section 1. A countywide special election, to be held in conjunction with a primary election, is hereby called and shall be held in Miami-Dade County, Florida on Tuesday, May 24, 2011, for the purpose of submitting to the qualified electors of Miami-Dade County the proposal for amendment to the Home Rule Charter in the form attached hereto and made a part hereof.
Section 2. Notice of such election shall be published in accordance with Section 100.342, Florida Statutes.
Section 3. The result of such election shall be determined by a majority of the qualified electors of Miami-Dade County voting upon the proposal. The polls at such election shall be open from 7:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. on the day of such election. All qualified electors of Miami-Dade County, Florida shall be entitled to vote at said election. The County registration books shall remain open at the Office of the Miami-Dade County Supervisor of Elections until twenty-nine (29) days prior to the date of such election, at which time the registration books will close in accordance with the provisions of general election laws. The question shall appear on the ballot in substantially the following form:
HOME RULE CHARTER AMENDMENT
REGARDING PETITIONS

SHALL THE CHARTER BE AMENDED TO PROVIDE THAT PETITIONS FOR CHARTER AMENDMENT, INITIATIVE, REFERENDUM AND RECALL SHALL NO LONGER REQUIRE A SWORN AFFIDAVIT OF A CIRCULATOR AND SHALL INSTEAD ONLY REQUIRE THE NAME AND ADDRESS OF A CIRCULATOR?

YES

NO

Section 4. The form of the ballot shall be in accordance with the requirements of general election laws.
Section 5. Early voting shall be conducted in accordance with the requirements of general election laws.
Section 6. Absentee paper ballots may be used by qualified electors of Miami-Dade County for voting on this question. The form of such absentee ballot shall be in accordance with the requirements prescribed by general election laws.
Section 7. A sample ballot showing the manner in which the question or proposal aforesaid will appear at this election shall be published and provided in accordance with the applicable provisions of general election laws.
Section 8. This special election on the proposal aforesaid shall be held and conducted in accordance with applicable provisions of the general laws relating to elections and the provisions of the Miami-Dade County Home Rule Charter. The County Mayor or his or her designee, the Finance Director, and the Clerk of the County Commission are hereby authorized and directed to take all appropriate actions necessary to carry into effect and accomplish the provisions of this resolution. This election shall be a nonpartisan election. Election officials in connection with this election shall be appointed in accordance with the provisions of general election laws.
Section 9. This election shall be canvassed by the County Canvassing Board, in accordance with the provisions of Section 3.07 of the Home Rule Charter.

OTHER


MIAMI-DADE COUNTY HOME RULE CHARTER

ARTICLE-8 1

INITIATIVE, REFERENDUM AND RECALL

* * *

SECTION 8.01. - INITIATIVE AND REFERENDUM.


* * *

2. The person or persons circulating the petition shall, within 60 days of the approval of the form of the petition, obtain the valid signatures of voters in the county in numbers at least equal to four percent of the registered voters in the county on the day on which the petition is approved, according to the official records of the County Supervisor of Elections. In determining the sufficiency of the petition, no more than 25 percent of the valid signatures required shall come from voters registered in any single county commission district. Each signer of a petition shall place thereon, after his name, the date, and his place of residence or precinct number. [[Each person circulating a copy of the petition shall attach to it a sworn affidavit stating the number of signers and the fact that each signature was made in the presence of the circulator of the petition.]] >>Each petition for charter amendment, initiative, referendum or recall shall contain space for the name and address of petition circulators and shall not require a sworn affidavit of petition circulators.<<

1 Words stricken through and/or [[double bracketed]] shall be deleted. Words underscored and/or >>double arrowed<< constitute the amendment proposed. Remaining provisions are now in effect and remain unchanged.





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