Court Battles

Two Florida residents sue to keep Sanders off Democratic primary ballot

Two Florida Democrats are suing to keep Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) off the party’s primary ballot and to prevent the state from certifying the votes he receives.

Frank Bach, a retired letter carrier, and George Brown, a retired social worker, filed the complaint in Leon County Circuit Court on Monday, alleging Sanders should not be included in the state’s Democratic primary because he identifies as an Independent.

The Florida primary is scheduled for March 17.

The two Tallahassee residents are asking the Florida Democratic Party and the Democratic National Committee, both of which are named as defendants, to disqualify the Vermont progressive from the ballot and block certification of his votes.

“The plaintiffs have the right to cast their March 17 Democratic presidential preference primary votes for those who are really Democrats, not independents, and are entitled to this court’s protection of their right to vote for a Democrat, with the results not diluted by Defendant Sanders’ unlawful participation as an independent interloping improperly in the (primary),” the complaint says.

The complaint acknowledges that it’s too late to remove Sanders from all ballots, as thousands of Floridians have already voted by mail. 

“Defendant Sanders is clearly an independent and is clearly not a Democrat, by his own definition,” the complaint said. “His current ‘day job’ is as a United States senator and he has consistently, proudly asserted his service in that role as independent.”

The two Florida residents are represented by Karen Gievers, who is married to Bach, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.

She said in a statement to The Hill that the plaintiffs don’t understand why Sanders did not switch his affiliation and become a Democrat before the certification deadline.

“Since he did not change his affiliation, he clearly continues to be an Independent, which means he can run for president in Florida, but as an Independent, not as a Democrat,” Gievers said in a statement.

The lawsuit comes at a time when Sanders is extending his delegate lead over other White House hopefuls. Sanders won the nominating contests in New Hampshire and Nevada and came in a close second in Iowa.

Several Democratic lawmakers are sounding the alarm as Sanders, who identifies as a democratic socialist, gains popularity, warning that his policies are too liberal to beat President Trump.

Tags 2020 election 2020 presidential campaign Bernie Sanders Donald Trump Florida Tallahassee

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