Argenziano sues state over election lawby Dara Kam | December 9th, 2011
Nancy Argenziano, a lifelong Republican and former state lawmaker who also served as chairwoman of the Public Service Commission, has sued the state over a sweeping election law now being challenged in court for different reasons.
Argenziano wants to run as a Democrat against incumbent U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland in a Panhandle district that includes Tallahassee, where Argenziano lives.
But she can’t because of a provision included in the election law approved by lawmakers earlier this year and signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott in June. That provision bars candidates from switching parties one year before the qualifying period for the general election begins, meaning the candidate must be registered in the party for nearly 18 months before the 2012 November election. The old law precluded candidates from switching parties six months before the general election.
The provision is unconstitutional, Argenziano’s lawyer Janet Ferris – a former Tallahassee judge – argued in a lawsuit filed in Leon County, because the Florida Constitution “prohibits any law from imposing unnecessary and unreasonable disqualifications on those who wish to seek office.
Argenziano switched her GOP party registration to the Independent Party shortly before the law went into effect this summer, she said. But if she had opted to register with no party affiliation, or “NPA,” she would not be in the fix she is in now.
Requiring a candidate to declare their party affiliation nearly 18 months before the election is “preposterous,” the fiery Argenziano told reporters at a press conference this morning.
“It is tantamount to requiring party declaration before even the full extent of the incompetence and deceit of the changing candidate slate is revealed and works to deprive a person of the ability to confront that deceit and incompetence at the most fundamental level, which is to oppose them on the ballot,” Argenziano said.
Southerland, a Republican, ousted long-time U.S. Rep. Allen Boyd, a Democrat, in November 2010.