‘In limbo’: Commissioners wait for Elections Supervisor to set ballot initiative deadline

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Some Orange County commissioners said they’re concerned voters won’t be able to vote on an important ballot initiative this November.


Last Tuesday, commissioners voted to move forward in the process of adding a question on rural boundaries to the November ballot. If passed, it would place protections on rural land.

Many commissioners tell Channel 9 the new Supervisor of Elections, Glen Gilzean, has discussed changing an important deadline for the Commission to submit ballot questions. The new deadline could be as early as Friday, June 14 at noon, commissioners say, and it would be near-to-impossible to meet.

The Supervisor of Elections’ Office, now run by DeSantis-appointee Glen Gilzean, tells Channel 9 it has not set an official deadline.

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Elected officials say this has caused confusion, chaos and frustration among Orange County administration and commissioners.

“We’re all waiting intently, all the county commissioners to see if it will be the 14th,” said Commissioner Mayra Uribe.

“I’m gonna do everything I can to make sure it ends up on the ballot,” said Commissioner Nicole Wilson.

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For years, commissioners have had until mid-to- late August to submit a referendum to the Supervisor of Elections. Commissioners say they learned last week the Supervisor of Elections’ office is considering going against that norm-- possibly last minute-- with little warning.

The Florida Legislature tried to block the controversial growth control measure.

“We need to vet any developments that can take away grazing land, or environmentally sensitive land. And that needs to continue to the process to be on a ballot so that the people can answer the question,” Wilson said.

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The Commission’s process to add questions to the ballot takes weeks of legal review, workshops and public hearings. They craft the language of the referendum.

“I think that’s where time and information and education come into place. And I don’t know if we have to expedite this, will we have that due diligence,” Uribe said.

Eyewitness News pulled emails showing Commissioner Emily Bonilla asked to put it on the agenda in May, noting she wanted giving ample time to meet the Election Supervisor’s normal August deadline.

Even County Administrator Byron Brooks said in an email in early May, the county was “mindful of the timing considerations” to ensure the ballot initiatives make it on the ballot.

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But as of Monday, county officials were unsure when that deadline would be.

Orange County Government says they are still in talks with the Supervisor of Elections’ counsel on when this deadline will be.

The county says it’s still pushing for an Aug. 29 deadline. Meanwhile, the Supervisor of Elections Office told us they still have not made a final decision.

The separate Charter Review Committee has a June 14 deadline to submit their ballot questions. Wilson says the Supervisor of Elections’ Office may be confusing that deadline with the commission’s typical deadline.

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