A political decision I just don’t understand

I suppose others who keep up with politics are less surprised by this than I am, but recently, a Florida judge ruled that Sen. Foley ballot replacement Joe Negron cannot place signs around voting locations telling voters that a vote for Foley would register as a vote for Negron instead. I’m still trying to grok this decision.

Rules prohibited taking Foley’s name off the ballot so close to the November 7 election. So the Republicans’ replacement candidate, Joe Negron, had asked election supervisors to post signs at the polls telling voters that ballots cast for Foley would elect him instead.

“The problem with posting or delivering such notices at polling places, which would speak only to the District 16 Congressional race, is that the legislature did not authorize them,” Ferris wrote in an order granting the Florida Democratic Party’s request for an injunction blocking the signs.

I can’t figure out what stance to take on this. I looked at what others have said, and immediately found 2 conflicting opinions. The Florida Masochist awarded Judge Ferris this case of judicial restraint is unfortunately the correct one.

Consider that the writer for The Florida Masochist (going by TFM) is a registered Democrat, and the author for the Captain’s Quarters article is a conservative. That makes the commentary on this run counter to what I expected. TFM writes:

The judge’s decision is all about politics. That’s why politics doesn’t belong in the courtroom, judges have political biases just like everyone else. I’m a registered democrat and think what was done here is a shameful episode in the history of the Florida democratic party. What party was it again that ruled Florida during the days of segregation and poll taxes?

Conversely, from the Captain’s Quarters we get:

Unfortunately, this is almost certainly the correct decision. When the Florida legislature passed the law mandating the primary as the deadline for ballot changes, it clearly had to know that they risked voter confusion if a candidate had to be replaced for any reason — death, disqualification, or in this case, withdrawal and resignation. The legislature did not provide any remedies for this, and for good reason. They apparently wanted to eliminate the possibility of a Torricelli Option, where a bad candidate can get swapped out at the last minute by his or her party for a better one, one that voters have no time to vet before the general election.

. . .

Florida’s legislature should revisit this law, however, when it returns to session. If they insist on locking names on the ballot at the primary, then they should allow some sort of explanation at the polling station to inform voters how their votes will count when a candidate has been replaced for any reason. It sounds like a series of regulations passed at different times, and legislators didn’t understand the impact each had on the other. Their intention of avoiding the kind of mischief pulled by the Democrats in New Jersey in 2002 is laudable, but the result hurts voter ability to understand how best to select their representation.

And Judge Ferris did get this right — it’s the legislature’s job to fix the problem, and not the court’s prerogative to modify laws to suit the purposes of the court. Republicans might be disappointed, but this is the kind of judicial restraint that we support.

And all of this leaves me wondering what to think of this. I totally see what conservatives would be riled up by this decision. But Captain Ed makes a very, very sensible claim that this is something that needs to be legislated. He also points out that the publicity of the Foley scandal has probably already been sufficient to get the Negron candidacy and vote information well-known as well.

I’m still new enough to paying attention to politics that I really need to hear some well-reasoned arguments from both sides to figure this one out. So far, the conservative argument I’ve seen says it is an unfortunate but correct ruling, and says it in a way that makes me think this is correct. But I’ve still got that niggling little doubt saying this is just judicial legislation, and that bothers me.

Any comments from the trio of readers I have here?

[tags]Voting in Florida after the Foley scandal, How voting law impacts late ballot changes[/tags]