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Lawsuit Asserts FL Democratic Party Violated Voters' Rights by Denying Party Members Choice in 2024

legal
Created: 11 December, 2023
Updated: 19 January, 2024
2 min read

A Florida attorney has filed a lawsuit against the state's Democratic Party and Secretary of State Cord Byrd seeking an immediate and mandatory injunction that would require US Rep. Dean Phillips' name to be put on the 2024 Democratic presidential primary ballot.

Last week, IVN published a story detailing the backlash following the party's decision to submit only President Joe Biden's name for the 2024 Florida presidential primary, which effectively canceled the primary since uncontested races do not show up on the ballot. 

Potential challengers to Biden in the critical battleground state are exploring all of their options to challenge the decision. Democratic US Rep. Dean Phillips' campaign has consulted with their legal team about a potential lawsuit, but Michael Steinberg of SSA Lawyers P.A. in Florida has already filed a lawsuit to get Phillips' name on the ballot.

"Dean Phillips has unquestionable Democratic credentials, is a sitting congressman, is nationally and internationally recognized as a candidate for President of the United States, and has been since October 27, 2023," Steinberg said in an email conversation.

Steinberg is a registered Florida voter and a member of the Democratic Party. He writes in his motion that he is "a long-time member of the Hillsborough County, Florida, Democratic Executive Committee, and past chair." He also served as a delegate to the 2004 Democratic National Convention.

The plaintiff asserts that he has a clear interest and standing to challenge the Democratic Party's decision to exclude additional names from the presidential primary. He states in the motion that the defendants violated his constitutional rights because their decision to exclude Phillips' name specifically "was arbitrary and capricious" and violated his rights to due process and equal protection under the law.

"The party cannot claim that he (Phillips) is not a recognized presidential candidate, nor claim he is not a bona fide Democrat," said Steinberg.

"The only logical reason for leaving him off the ballot is the fear that if he received a significant percentage of the votes in the presidential primary election, it would potentially hurt the chances of Joe Biden winning the general election."

He added that this is "not a legitimate basis for refusing to put any other generally recognized Democratic candidates for president on the presidential primary ballot."

Florida has approximately 4.5 million registered Democrats. None of these voters will be able to cast a ballot for their preferred presidential candidate in the party's nomination process in 2024 if no additional names are added to the presidential primary ballot.

It is worth noting that nearly 40% of primary voters did not vote for Biden in 2020.

Read Steinberg's full motion: