Is Rejection of Votes from Legal Voters Insufficient to Void An Election ?

To determine the meaning of the term "rejection", as used by the Legislature, we may look to Florida case law. In State ex rel. Clark v. Klingensmith, 121 Fla. 297, 163 So. 704 (1935), an individual who lost an election brought an action for quo warranto challenging his opponent's right to hold office. The challenger challenged twenty-two ballots, which he divided into four groups. One of these groups included three ballots that the challenger claimed had not been counted. See 121 Fla. at 298, 163 So. at 705. This Court concluded that "the rejection of votes from legal voters, not brought about by fraud, and not of such magnitude as to demonstrate that a free expression of the popular will has been suppressed," is insufficient to void an election, "at least unless it be shown that the votes rejected would have changed the result." 121 Fla. at 300, 163 So. at 705. Therefore, the Court appears to have equated a "rejection" of legal votes with the failure to count legal votes, while at the same time recognizing that a sufficient number of such votes must have been rejected to merit relief This notion of "rejected" is also in accordance with the common understanding of rejection of votes as used in other election cases. In discussing the facts in Roudebush v. Hartke, 405 U.S. 15, 31 L. Ed. 2d 1, 92 S. Ct. 804 (1972), the United States Supreme Court explained: If a recount is conducted in any county, the voting machine tallies are checked and the sealed bags containing the paper ballots are opened. The recount commission may make new and independent determinations as to which ballots shall be counted. In other words, it may reject ballots initially counted and count ballots initially rejected. Id.