Florida Dems to proceed with mail-in vote

The Florida Democratic Party plans to move forward with a June 3 vote-by-mail primary to restore the state's role in the presidential race, a top state Democrat said Wednesday.

State Sen. Steven Geller said a formal announcement would come Thursday or Friday.

Unless national party leaders "are willing to write off the state of Florida in the general election, we have to do something that seats our delegates," he said.

Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Karen Thurman has sent a draft proposal to state and national party leaders and has asked for feedback by Friday. The mail ballot would cost $10 million to $12 million, Thurman said, and be conducted by "reputable election management companies" and overseen by "a recognized accounting firm."

If there's consensus agreement, Thurman said in the memo, the state party will begin in earnest on Monday getting the mail-in vote going.

"We have re-examined every potential alternative again," Thurman wrote in her memo. "Online one stands out as fair, open, practical and feasible at this time. We are positive that a combination vote-by-mail and in-person election can be conducted in the time available – but only if Democratic leaders support the plan."

National party officials stripped Florida and Michigan of their delegates to this summer's national convention in Denver to punish the states for moving their primaries before Feb. 5. Florida lost 211 delegates, Michigan, 156.

Hillary Rodham Clinton won the January primaries in both states, but no delegates were awarded. Neither Clinton nor rival Barack Obama campaigned in either state in deference to party rules.

Florida is moving ahead despite objections from its members in the U.S. House. David Goldenberg, chief of staff to Rep. Alcee Hastings, said the state hasn't had enough time to prepare for a mail-in vote. House members also were concerned that ballots would not reach low-income voters who may change addresses frequently or residents who spend only winter in the state, he said. Hastings supports Clinton.

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, also a Clinton supporter, countered that a mail-in election is the "most practical and fair way" to resolve the dispute.

On Wednesday, Clinton said the state should honor the results of the original voting or "hold new primary elections."

Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said he had "real deep concerns" whether the state has time to prepare a mail-in vote.

Contributing: Florida capital bureau of Gannett News Service

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