Skip to content

Florida

Florida’s recent passage of S 90 rolled back measures that promoted voter access to mail ballots; the State now has the opportunity to remedy this damage and strengthen its election system by implementing voter-centric reforms. We recommend making the semi-permanent absentee voter list truly permanent. In addition, Florida should guarantee prepaid postage and implement same-day and automatic voter registration to increase access. The State should also conduct risk-limiting audits, improve ballot tracking, and extend postmark and cure deadlines to decrease rejection rates and increase voter confidence. As always, while policy is important, effective implementation is just as important.

As of 2021....

No Excuse Required

No Excuse Required

No excuse to vote by mail

Online Mail Ballot Application

Online Mail Ballot Application

Apply for mail ballot online

Robust Ballot Return Option

Robust Ballot Return Option

U.S. mail, drop boxes, vote centers, and more

Prepaid Postage

Prepaid Postage

Postage-paid return envelopes provided

Election Day Postmark Acceptance

Election Day Postmark Acceptance

Accepts ballots postmarked by Election Day

Ballot Tracking

Ballot Tracking

Online method to check ballot status

Signature Verification

Signature Verification

Voter signature verified before ballot is counted

Cure Process

Cure Process

Ability to correct issues so ballot can be counted

Preprocessing

Preprocessing

Election official may process ballot before Election Day

Opportunities

Florida can reduce costs and increase voter convenience by expanding its permanent absentee voting list, on which voters can sign up to automatically be sent an absentee ballot for each election without having to re-apply. Expanding Florida’s permanent absentee option by making the list truly permanent, rather than for just one year, would save the state significant expenses by cutting down on the requests it needs to process.
Paying for prepaid postage is a voter-centric reform that removes a financial barrier to the vote. While Florida has encouraged counties to pay postage for ballots, we encourage the state to pay postage for future elections.
Creating an online portal for all voters to request an absentee ballot not only makes it much more convenient for voters, it also would be a boon to election officials. Currently, only some counties offer such a system. A statewide system could be built to feed directly into the county voter registration systems to help verify addresses, collect contact information, and to remove administrative steps (and costs!) to process a large amount of requests. We encourage an integrated process that allows new voters to register, current voters to make changes to their address and make requests for ballots in a seamless manner.
Creating an online portal for all voters to request an absentee ballot not only makes it much more convenient for voters, it also would be a boon to election officials. Currently, only some counties offer such a system. A statewide system could be built to feed directly into the county voter registration systems to help verify addresses, collect contact information, and to remove administrative steps (and costs!) to process a large amount of requests. We encourage an integrated process that allows new voters to register, current voters to make changes to their address and make requests for ballots in a seamless manner.
Ballot tracking software such as Ballot Scout or Ballot TRACE can be a very cost effective tool to improve Florida’s current ballot tracking and increase voter confidence. It also adds a layer of data for the elections office and serves as another modality to contact voters if there is a signature mismatch or deficiency on their return envelope. An expanded notification system helps keep rejection rates low and increases voter confidence and participation.
Drop boxes reduce strain on the postal system, and are sometimes a preferred method by voters who want an extra bit of reassurance that their ballot makes it to the elections office on time. Florida already has drop boxes and Board of Elections ballot drop off. Adding voting centers and polling place drop off would further lessen the reliance on the postal service and increase voter convenience and confidence. In addition, repealing the provision in S 90 that requires that drop boxes be monitored at all times would make drop boxes more accessible to voters by allowing them to be open for more hours.
Drop boxes reduce strain on the postal system, and are sometimes a preferred method by voters who want an extra bit of reassurance that their ballot makes it to the elections office on time. Florida already has drop boxes and Board of Elections ballot drop off. Adding voting centers and polling place drop off would further lessen the reliance on the postal service and increase voter convenience and confidence. In addition, repealing the provision in S 90 that requires that drop boxes be monitored at all times would make drop boxes more accessible to voters by allowing them to be open for more hours.

Recent Legislation

As of May 19, 2021

A wide variety of pro-vote-by-mail legislation was introduced throughout the 2020 session. Unfortunately, all failed to become law. The only movement was Executive Order 20-149, which permitted county canvassing boards to begin canvassing immediately following the completion of tabulation equipment testing.
In addition, during the 2021 session, the Legislature passed S 90. This bill extended the temporary canvassing provision enacted in EO 20-149. However, its most impactful provisions include:

  • Weakening the semi-permanent absentee voter list by limiting the duration of mail-in ballot requests to elections within one calendar year.
  • Requiring that voters provide a driver’s license number or last four digits of a social security number in order to request a mail ballot.
  • Mandating that drop boxes be attended at all times.
  • Limiting who can return a voter’s mail ballot.
  • Ensuring that mail ballot requests made in the future only last for half as long.
  • Banning election officials from proactively sending absentee applications or ballots to voters.

All of these reforms do not prioritize needs; they make it more difficult for voters to request and return mail ballots.