TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – In a state where elections and litigation are intertwined, add this to Florida’s ballot box saga: A pair of Floridians are asking a court to remove Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Democratic front-runner for president, from the state’s March 17 primary ballot.
Although Sanders is registered as a Democrat with the Federal Election Commission, a lawsuit filed in Leon County asserts he is a political interloper and not a bona fide Democrat.
“Defendant Sanders is clearly an Independent, and is clearly not a Democrat, by his own definitions. His current ‘day job’ is as a United States Senator and he has consistently, proudly asserted his service in that role as Independent,” contends the suit filed on behalf of the two registered Democrats who want Sanders off the ballot.
They say he should run as an Independent.
“In our political climate today, Democrats need to have a voice,” said George Brown, and 80-year-old former member of the 101st Airborne Division of the U.S. Army.
“He’s eliminating my vote as a Democrat,” said Frank Bach, 82, a Korean War veteran who retired from the U.S. Air Force as an airman first class. “I’m very upset with the president we have right now.”
Florida’s ballot box has been the source of continuing legal strife, with cases currently being litigated over the right of felons to vote, early voting on college campuses and even the order in which names appear on ballots.
With Sanders now the clear front-runner to become the Democratic nominee for the White House, his rivals are looking to slow his momentum.
“The lawsuit is ridiculous,” said Juan Peñalosa, the executive director of the Florida Democratic Party, which was named as a defendant in the lawsuit along with Sanders, the national Democratic Party and Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee.
Peñalosa said the state party had unanimously voted to place Sanders on the Florida ballot.
“Votes cast for the Senator are valid and must be counted,” he said.