The ruling marks the first time a judge has ever interpreted Florida election law so broadly to bar any mention of a candidate in response to a voter's question. State officials are appealing Judge Ferris's ruling. Some poll workers are referring to Judge Ferris's ruling as a preelection "gag order."
Early voting began this week. Negron campaign workers are positioned outside the polls to stress to voters that a vote for Foley is really a vote for Negron.
David Levine, a Republican committee member in Martin County, has been manning the parking lot outside the polls at the Hobe Sound Library. "There is a very high rate of awareness" of the ballot issue, he says. "There was only one person I had to explain the whole situation to. Everyone else knows it."
Political analysts say that early voters tend to be more politically aware. The real test will be on Election Day when independent undecided voters arrive at the polls, analysts say.
When Hobe Sound poll worker William Harrington was asked about the Foley-Negron-ballot issue, he said, "I can't answer any question about that. We're under tight restrictions."
He added: "We received on Monday morning a sheet saying we could give no assistance as to candidates and we were warned that there might be people like you testing what we do."
One voter, Anita Hunt, said she overheard a man complaining loudly to officials manning the Hobe Sound precinct. "He was saying all kinds of four-letter words and 'I don't understand this,' " Ms. Hunt said. She said she heard the poll worker suggest that the man should ask his wife for help with his question. She said she heard the poll worker tell the man, "I can't advise you."
Despite the incident, voters emerging from the polls at Hobe Sound said they had no problem voting for the candidate of their choice – including many who said they voted for Negron.
"It is not confusing at all," said Jean Aldridge, after casting her ballot for Negron. "Anyone listening to the news or reading the paper should know."