Ruling that such issues are governed by state law, an appeals court Friday rejected a voter-approved change that called for Orange County constitutional officers to be chosen in non-partisan elections.

Voters in 2014 supported revamping the Orange County charter to include non-partisan elections for the clerk of circuit court, comptroller, property appraiser, sheriff, supervisor of elections and tax collector. Constitutional officers filed a lawsuit, and a circuit judge rejected the change, concluding that the issue was “preempted” to the Legislature.

A three-judge panel of the 5th District Court of Appeal on Friday said the circuit judge correctly struck down the change to non-partisan elections.

“We agree with appellees’ (the challengers’) assertion that Orange County cannot regulate the method and timing of its elections for county constitutional officers because that subject area has been preempted to the state,” said the ruling by judges William Palmer, Vincent Torpy and Kerry Evander. “(Part of the Florida Constitution) requires elections to be `regulated by law’ — meaning a statute enacted by the Legislature.”

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