Appeals court blocks Orange County rent control ballot measure; What it means for voters

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — With less than two weeks to go before election day and early voting already underway, one ballot measure in Orange County may go nowhere even if it passes.


An appeals court has ruled that a rent control proposal should never have made it on the November ballot.

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The 42-page ruling essentially says the language in the ballot measure doesn’t adequately describe for voters what rent control in Orange County would actually look like should it pass, and therefore should never have been allowed.

Former judge and practicing attorney Belvin Perry says a judge has the discretion to go either way when deciding whether or not to make changes that would impact an election already underway.

Perry says there’s nothing illegal or unethical about the ruling.

When it comes to the more than 31,000 ballots already cast in Orange County’s midterm early voting period, Supervisor of Elections Bill Cowles says all they can really do is try to spread the word for those who haven’t voted yet.

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“The history is very clear that once the ballot is the ballot and it’s out, you don’t pull it back in and start over,” Cowles said. “As we’ve done in the past, we would put notice to voters in the early voting booths and then in the polling place booths saying if you vote for the issue, the vote will not count.”

Cowles says whether or not the votes count could still change depending on the court’s final decision.

“Keep voting,” Cowles said when asked what voters who haven’t been to the polls yet should do. “The ballot is still active- including the rent stabilization question- until such time a court makes a definitive ruling.”

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings says he’s also plowing ahead.

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“The court confirmed that the law in Florida sets an extremely high bar for local governments wishing to pass a rent control measure,’ Demings said in a statement. “Orange County will be filing a motion for rehearing.”

Cowles says the earliest the local circuit court could get the decision would be Thursday, November 3, at which point the question will be whether the decision gets appealed to the Supreme Court.

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