PRESS RELEASE from Florida Democratic Party

Party Puts Offer on the Table

For Immediate Release: March 13, 2008

TALLAHASSEE - Last night, Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Karen L. Thurman sent a memo to the Presidential candidates, DNC Chairman Howard Dean, and Florida Democratic leaders, urging them to consider a combined vote-by-mail/in-person election.

"Democrats are passionate, and Democrats are energized. We can capture this enthusiasm if we come together around a solution that offers the people of Florida a voice in the nominating process," Thurman said. "If this proposal isn't what the people want, that's okay. We're putting something on the table, but it's by no means a done deal."

"The Florida Democratic Party welcomes any and all suggestions about how to move forward. However, at this point, the Party has not been offered any other option that would allow all of Florida Democratic voters - whether they're fighting in Iraq, retiring in Boca, raising horses in Ocala, or entertaining families at Disney - the opportunity to participate, other than the January 29th primary that the DNC will not recognize."

The full memo can be downloaded here:

You can submit your input by Friday, 3/14/08, at 6:00 PM EST here:

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions:

Q. Does Florida Law allow for this type of election?
A. State law does not apply to this election, which would be run by the state party, managed by experienced election management companies and overseen by a reputable accounting firm. Media reports on this subject have been inaccurate. State law does not allow for a state-run mail-in election with candidates on the ballot, but this election would not be run by the state.

Q. How can the Party pull off this election in such a short period of time?
A. Two main reasons: The Florida Democratic Party has researched this process for the past year, and the election would actually be run by election management companies experienced in these type of special elections. When the Republican Legislature moved up the state's primary and put it out of compliance with DNC and RNC Rules, we began looking at all of our possible options. Last summer, we proposed a vote-by-mail election to the DNC, and Rules & Bylaws Committee members were very interested in the idea. Unfortunately, there was no funding at the time. Recently, public and private commitments have been made to assist in raising the $10-12 million it would take to run the election.

Additionally, the Florida Democratic Party has accomplished numerous feats in the past three years that no one thought was possible, including paying off an inherited $1 million in debt; building county parties into functional, vote-building organizations; holding a successful state convention that raised nearly $750,000 despite no major presidential candidates in attendance; and picked up a Cabinet seat for the first time since 1998, nine State House seats and two congressional seats all previously held by Republicans (no net loss at any level of government).

Q. Why would you have private companies run the election?
A. Florida Law does not allow for a state-run election under the current circumstances. Nevertheless, the process would be transparent and accessible to the public, as required by DNC Rules and in the spirit of Florida's Sunshine-in-the-Government law.

Q. Can you pay for the election with soft (non-federal) money?
A. Yes. The DNC's legal counsel informed the Party that this election could be paid for with non-federal or soft money. Florida law places no limits on contributions given to political parties.

Q. Would you have enough time for overseas and military voters to get ballots and send them back?
A. Yes. Like the state of Florida does with absentee ballots for military and overseas voters, the Party would mail ballots to these voters 45 days prior to the election.

Q. What is the last day the election can be held?
A. We have until June 10, according to DNC rules. Delegate selection must be completed by June 21.

Q. Does the U.S. Justice Department have any involvement in this?
A. Florida has five counties that require "preclearance" under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Fortunately, this is a very inclusive process, and we will file the appropriate paperwork. Also, per Section 2, ballots would be printed in English, Spanish and Creole.

Q. How long a lead time will be needed to allow for voter registration?
A. Generally, 30-45 days are needed. There is ample time for independents to join the Democratic Party and participate if they wish.

Q. Will Republicans and independents who already voted in the January 29th Republican primary be allowed to switch their registration and vote in the new contest?
A. No one who voted in the Republican primary on Jan. 29 will be eligible to vote in the Democratic primary, even if they switch parties. Our voter file enables us to easily identify these voters.