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Judge opens county race to all voters

Thousands of voters in northern Broward will be able to help select their next county commissioner, after a Broward circuit judge Friday ordered the election primary open to all voters.

Broward Circuit Court Judge Sandra Perlman threw out write-in candidate Tyron Francois, whose presence in the North Broward District 2 race had closed the August primary so that only Democrats could vote.

Francois, a Democrat himself, admitted he didn't live in District 2, and attorney Bill Scherer argued successfully that his candidacy should be nullified because of it.

Perlman's decision gives voting rights to 53,474 Republicans, independents and other non-Democrats who otherwise wouldn't have been allowed to participate. They represent 49 percent of the voters in the district, which covers all of Coconut Creek and Margate and parts of Coral Springs, Deerfield Beach and Pompano Beach.

The Broward elections office will review the judge's order before deciding whether to appeal, attorney Burnadette Norris-Weeks said. She had suggested the race be moved to November because it's too late for ballots to be revised and machines to be re-coded for an open primary.

Overseas absentee ballots go out Saturday. Domestic absentee ballots go out July 22. Early voting starts Aug. 11. The primary is Aug. 26.

"There is no time,'' Norris-Weeks said.

Running for the seat are Democrats Mark Bogen, Charlotte Elizabeth Rodstrom, Lisa Kohner Aronson, Carmen Dixon Jones and Terry Williams-Edden.

The race was one of three County Commission contests in which only Democrats could participate, because of write-in candidates, who are often put into races as a political strategy to shut out voters who are ideologically different. The other two races aren't being contested; write-in candidates in those races do live in the districts.

bwallman@tribune.com or 954-356-4541

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