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2020

Energy deregulation opponents demand petition signatures be revoked because of deception, fraud

Petitioners who say they were tricked into signing asked the state for action.

An organization opposed to the proposed ‘Energy Choice’ amendment want Florida elections officials tossing out petitions.

Floridians For Truth accused the Citizens for Energy Choice organization of gathering signatures under pretenses after misleading voters.

“The Court has found in Hatten v. State that if a voter’s signature was obtained through fraud, then the signature is invalid,” said Floridians For Truth chair Kristopher Guzman.

“The number of instances and examples in which petition gatherers failed to give electors the truth about the risks, duties and obligations involved in 18-10 are so obvious that the Secretary of State should have no alternative but to grant our request.”

Citizens for Energy Choice has submitted 624,104 petition signatures deemed valid by the state, more than 80% of what’s needed to qualify for the ballot.

But the opposing group said it has collected thousands of petitions from voters actually asking for their signatures to be revoked. Floridians For Truth sent accounts of voters detailing specific instances of “deception and fraud.”

“Thousands of Florida voters were deceived into signing the petition by the signature collectors and told that the petition would allow them to choose who to purchase electricity from,” reads a letter sent to Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee.

“The reality is far different. The plain truth is that if passed the amendment would drastically change the way electricity that every Floridian needs is produced. Over 85% of Floridians would be mandated to change their electricity provider no matter if they are completely satisfied with their service.”

Furthermore, the critics said forces behind the amendment have misled voters with campaign material.

“The amendment sponsors are claiming that ‘Electricity choice means lower rates, more jobs and more renewable energy,’” the letter continues. “Each of these claims is easily proven as being false and misleading, and thousands of voters who signed the Energy Choice petition agree that they were tricked by these false claims.”

In order to get on the 2020 general election ballot, amendment backers must gather the required number of signatures by Feb. 1.

“The Energy Choice petition, its agents and its key billionaire backer, Rich Blaser, have committed themselves to a campaign of lies in order to perpetrate the whole scale destruction of reliable and affordable energy in Florida,” Guzman said.

“Their campaign is replete with numerous instances of fraud and deceptions and our request is designed to protect Florida’s voters and Constitution. We are prepared to file a lawsuit should the Secretary of State deny our request.”

Written By

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at jacobogles@hotmail.com.

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Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

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Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Renzo Downey, Rick Flagg, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Bob Sparks, Andrew Wilson.
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