Florida: Did mail delays lead to more late-arriving ballots? The opposite, counties say | Aaron Leibowitz/Tampa Bay Times

Florida voters had plenty of reasons to question the reliability of voting by mail in the Nov. 3 election. The U.S. Postal Service was delivering ballots at delayed speeds, and thousands of ballots were flagged for signature issues that disproportionately affect young and minority voters. With people voting by mail in record numbers due to COVID-19, rejected ballots had the potential to become Florida’s “hanging chads” of 2020. But that hasn’t come to pass. In fact, early data from some of the state’s largest counties suggests efforts by local elections supervisors, voters and advocates helped drive down the number of ballots received after Florida’s 7 p.m. Election Day deadline. In Miami-Dade County, elections officials told the Miami Herald that, as of Monday, 648 ballots had arrived after the deadline, meaning they won’t count in the general election. In the August primary, even though about 250,000 fewer mail ballots were cast, 4,691 ballots arrived after the deadline — more than seven times as many as in November. Suzy Trutie, the deputy supervisor of elections for Miami-Dade, said she attributes the low number of late ballots to the department’s education efforts about sending in ballots with time to spare. She also pointed to the use of drop boxes at early voting sites, which accounted for about one-third of all mail ballots cast in the county.

Full Article: Did mail delays lead to more late-arriving ballots? The opposite, Florida counties say

Florida: Here’s how post-election audits work in Florida | Allison Ross/Tampa Bay Times

Most counties do a manual audit, in which elections workers hand count all the votes cast in up to 2 percent of the precincts for one randomly selected race. The numbers tallied by elections workers are then compared to the official results originally produced by the vote-counting machines. Ballots that were cast by mail, on Election Day, during early in-person voting and provisionally are all included in this audit, as are any ballots that came in from overseas voters. “It’s labor-intensive, but worth it, from my perspective,” said Brian Corley, supervisor of elections in Pasco County. He said these audits help give county residents confidence in the elections process, saying he’s found that residents like that he and his staff are physically touching and counting ballots to ensure the accuracy of machine counts. Julie Marcus, supervisor of elections in Pinellas County, said audits are the final step in making sure voting systems are accurate. She said Pinellas County “has had perfect audits since audits were implemented in 2008.”

Full Article: Here’s how post-election audits work in Florida

Florida: Where’s the drama? Not in Florida, and that’s fine with elections officials | Allison Ross/Tampa Bay Times

Thanks in part to the tumultuous 2000 presidential election of Bush v. Gore, the Sunshine State has long been — often unfairly, sometimes deservedly so — a punchline or cautionary tale of election woes. But in this year’s presidential race, voting ran smoothly in Florida’s 67 counties. With 29 key electoral votes up for grabs in a fraught election, Florida’s counties tabulated and shared results within hours after the polls closed. As other states — Pennsylvania, Arizona, Nevada and Georgia — found themselves under the national glare and mounting partisan pressure as they tabulated results, Florida officials exchanged congratulatory tweets. “Florida is a model for the rest of the nation to follow,” Gov. Ron DeSantis tweeted Wednesday afternoon, thanking elections officials and poll workers for their hard work. Florida’s elections rules, many created after the 2000 meltdown, put officials in prime position to conduct a presidential election during a pandemic.

Full Article: Where’s the drama? Not in Florida, and that’s fine with elections officials

Florida election officials say 2020 won’t be a repeat of 2000 – Here’s what has changed since the 2000 and 2018 recounts | Skyler Wisher/South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Two years ago, a federal judge called Florida the “laughing stock of the world” because of its repeated voting mishaps and failure to conduct smooth elections. The midterm election featured three statewide recounts. Machines in Palm Beach County overheated and broke down. Politicians leveled unfounded allegations of voter fraud. A ballot design error likely cost an incumbent senator thousands of votes. It was deja vu. Back in 2000, the world’s eyes turned to Florida during the Bush v. Gore recount. That election had its own host of problems: butterfly ballots, hanging chad and a Brooks Brothers riot carried out by well-dressed, paid Republican protesters. So has Florida learned its lesson? Will 2020 be the year Florida emerges as a shining beacon of democracy, where votes are counted efficiently and accurately? Will other states look on with envy at the Sunshine State’s competency and civic prowess? Election officials and longtime Florida politicos say they are optimistic that Florida is in a better position than ever to run a drama-free election.

Full Article: Florida election officials say 2020 won’t be a repeat of 2000 – South Florida Sun-Sentinel

In Florida, voters of color and young voters have had ballots flagged for possible rejection at higher rates than others | Elise Viebeck and Beth Reinhard/The Washington Post

As Floridians rush to vote in the presidential election, mail ballots from Black, Hispanic and younger voters are being flagged for problems at a higher rate than they are for other voters, potentially jeopardizing their participation in the race for the country’s largest battleground state. The deficient ballots — which have been tagged for issues such as a missing signature — could be rejected if voters do not remedy the problems by 5 p.m. Nov. 5. As of Thursday, election officials had set aside twice as many ballots from Black and Hispanic voters as those from White voters, according to an analysis by University of Florida political science professor Daniel Smith. For people younger than 24, the rate was more than four times what it was for those 65 and older. While the number of deficient mail ballots in Florida was relatively low one week before the election, at roughly 15,000 out of more than 4.3 million cast, that figure could rise sharply: Roughly 1.6 million Floridians still have outstanding mail ballots.

Full Article: In Florida, voters of color and young voters have had ballots flagged for possible rejection at higher rates than others – The Washington Post

Florida failed to spend $10 million for election security, COVID protection | Jeffrey Schweers/Tallahassee Democrat

With days to go, Florida has failed to spend more than $10 million designated for election security, COVID-19 protection at the polls and a surge in mailed ballots. A large piece of that pie is $3.5 million that Secretary of State Laurel Lee requested from the Legislature earlier this year for the state’s 67 county supervisors of elections to shore up their systems. The counties didn’t ask for that money. And it remains unspent, sitting in a state account as “unbudgeted reserve.” Another chunk of pie left on the plate is $6 million in CARES Act funds that 19 counties decided not to take advantage of, which could be used to make polling places safer for voters and hire extra people to count mail-in ballots. As the state’s top election official, Lee insists Florida is ready. “Florida is very well situated to proceed to our November election,” Lee said. Lee said the same thing about making sure the online voter registration system could handle the onslaught of new applicants. But it crashed on the last day people were allowed to apply to vote, forcing Lee to extend the deadline and sparking a legal challenge to extend it further.

Full Article: Florida failed to spend $10 million for election security, COVID protection

Florida’s elections chief works to avoid becoming household name in 2020 vote count | Skyler Swisher/South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Laurel Lee has an IQ fitting of the challenge ahead of her — ensure that the presidential election in Florida runs smoothly and doesn’t become a punchline yet again for the nation’s comedians. As secretary of state, Lee serves as the state’s top elections official, working with independent supervisors of elections for each of Florida’s 67 counties. It’s a position that can be overlooked, but if something goes wrong in a high-stakes election, the secretary of state can quickly become a household name. In 2000, then-Secretary of State Katherine Harris emerged as one of the key players in the Bush v. Gore recount drama. Lee’s credentials include a law degree from the University of Florida, a stint as a judge in Hillsborough County and membership in Mensa, an organization open to people who score at the 98th percentile or above on IQ tests.

Full Article: Laurel Lee, Florida’s top election official, ready for Nov. 3 – South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Florida voting rights group combats threats over Trump | Lawrence Mower/Miami Herald

Florida Republicans’ request last month for police and the FBI to investigate a program to pay off felons’ court fees and fines hasn’t amounted to criminal charges or a formal probe.But it has created a “chilling effect” and sparked threats from white supremacists, according to Desmond Meade, executive director of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, which has raised tens of millions of dollars to pay off court fees and fines for felons over the last 18 months. Meade said Friday he’s hired lawyers and security experts to combat threats from people who now believe he and his organization are working to undermine President Donald Trump’s reelection. “White supremacist groups were encouraging people to go to our website and do nefarious things and trying to sabotage the site,” Meade said. He’s now trying to remind everyone that his organization is nonpartisan. In 2018, Meade and his group led the effort to overturn the state’s 150-year-old ban on felon voting, which was successful because it had support from both Republicans and Democrats. He has largely stayed out of the litigation over a law Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed last year requiring felons to pay off all court fees, fines and restitution to victims before being allowed to vote.

Florida: Pinellas County deputies investigate report of armed voter intimidation at St. Petersburg voting location | Lisette Lopez  and Ryan Smith/WFTS

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a report of possible armed voter intimidation at a downtown St. Petersburg voting location, the Pinellas Supervisor of Elections said. According to the Pinellas SOE Julie Marcus, two people suspected of voter intimidation were wearing security uniforms at the downtown St. Petersburg early voting location at 501 First Ave N.According to Marcus, the pair told a responding law enforcement officer that they are with a private security company. She says a concerned staff member reported at least one of them was armed. The pair set up a tent and claimed to be working for the Trump campaign, Marcus said.”These persons claimed or said that they were hired by the Trump campaign, again I’m not going to speculate to that. This was a licensed security company and they were licensed security officers,” Marcus said.

Florida: Will the Recount State Be Ready for the Election? | Patricia Mazzei and Frances Robles/The New York Times

Most states have the occasional problems running their elections. Not Florida. Florida has debacles. … More than two decades of scandals and blunders have made Florida the nation’s elections punchline, the state that kept the world at the edge of its seat while votes for president were manually recounted. The shadows of Florida elections past seem to lurk everywhere.“I feel like I’ve seen this movie before,” Judge Mark E. Walker of the Federal District Court in Tallahassee said in a ruling this month after the state’s voter registration website crashed under the weight of thousands of last-minute applications. Now the state, like the rest of the nation, faces perhaps the most daunting test yet: a 2020 election conducted in the midst of a pandemic, amid unsubstantiated fraud claims spread by the president and others. Reasonable predictions suggest that the legal wrangling over the results could stretch far beyond election night. Is Florida ready?

Florida: Emails threatening voters to “vote for Trump or else!” linked to overseas servers | Melissa Quinn, Stefan Becket and Graham Kates/CBS

Dozens of voters in a heavily Democratic county in Florida and across several states reported receiving emails on Thursday purporting to come from a right-wing group threatening to “come after” them unless they vote for President Trump. But an examination of the messages, which are now under investigation by state and federal authorities, shows they were sent via servers located overseas, raising questions about their origin amid concerns about voter intimidation just two weeks before Election Day. Democratic voters in Alachua County, Florida, began receiving the email on Tuesday morning, and voters in Alaska and Arizona also reported receiving the message. Early voting began in Florida on Monday. The emails appeared to come from the right-wing group The Proud Boys, and showed a “from” address of info@officialproudboys.com. The Proud Boys has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights advocacy group.

Florida voting machines ripe for Russian hackers, experts say | John Pacenti/Palm Beach Post

Bad actors working for the likes of Russia and other nation-states are lurking on the internet, waiting for their chance to infiltrate the American voting system. Florida may be ripe for the picking, computer scientists say, because numerous counties rely on voting machines that are drawing fire for their vulnerability to a cyberattack. These computer scientists along with election integrity groups familiar with the model that Palm Beach and 48 other counties use, say there are potentially numerous ways for a foreign entity to alter results. They say that state election officials have accepted wholesale the spin from the manufacturer that these machines — which voters at polling places feed ballots into after marking candidates of their choice — are secure. “It has been asserted that voting machines are not vulnerable to remote hacking because they are never connected to the Internet, but both the premise and the conclusion are false,” states a Sept. 15 letter sent to Florida’s Division of Elections by nearly 30 of the country’s top computer scientists and election integrity groups.

Florida: Vote-by-mail settlement clears decks for voting in crucial Florida primary, general elections | Michael Moline/Florida Phoenix

A weekend settlement doesn’t resolve every point of contention between voting rights organizations, the state, and Florida’s 67 county supervisors of elections over access to early and mail-in voting during the pandemic in the country’s largest electoral swing state. But to the extent the outcome helps disadvantaged groups — Blacks, Latinos, the disabled, and more — overcome the state’s allegedly “gross inaction,” it could help decide an historic election. And in expanding access to both voting alternatives and mandating that the state and supervisors promote them among the public, it leaves those organizers free to use limited financial resources to move these voters to the polls instead of paying lawyers. That was the analysis representatives of those groups offered during a Zoom conference call Monday as U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle signed off on the settlement agreement. The day marked the deadline to register to vote in the Aug. 18 primary elections for state offices and Congress. “This settlement is a clear victory and a step forward for black and Latinx voters, as well as for all Floridians. Florida has finally done one thing right about the COVID crisis — Florida is settling this case,” said Judith Browne Dianis, executive director of the Advancement Project.

Florida: Vote-by-mail legal battle reaches settlement | Tampa Bay Times

On the eve of a trial slated to begin Monday, lawyers representing the state and plaintiffs in a legal battle over Florida’s vote-by-mail procedures have reached a settlement. Priorities USA, Dream Defenders and other plaintiffs have been seeking to expand the state’s vote-by-mail process, arguing that the COVID-19 pandemic will result in a record number of Floridians casting ballots from home to reduce chances of being infected with the highly contagious coronavirus. Among other things, the plaintiffs asked to extend a deadline for mail-in ballots to be returned. They also wanted free postage for the ballots and challenged a provision in Florida law restricting paid workers from collecting mail-in ballots. U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle had set aside two weeks for a trial scheduled to start Monday. But on Sunday, plaintiffs and Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration notified the court that they had reached a settlement.

Florida: Democrats Go to Court to Compel Supervisors of Elections to Retain Electronic Ballot Images | Mitch Perry/Spectrum News

A group of Florida Democrats filed a lawsuit earlier this month, claiming that the supervisors of elections who are destroying electronic ballot images from vote scanning machines are in violation of state and federal law. Election law requires that supervisors of elections retain paper ballots for at least 22 months after an election, but approximately 40 of the 67 counties are not retaining their electronic ballots, according to the suit, which was filed on July 1 in the Second Judicial Circuit in Leon County.  “It’s the redundancy. Instead of just one set of paper ballots, you have a set of paper ballots and you have the ballot images,” says attorney Chris Sautter, representing the group AUDIT Elections USA, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of a number of Florida Democrats. Digital vote scanners are in use throughout Florida as the mechanism by which voters cast ballots and the ballots are tabulated. These digital vote scanning systems replaced optical scanners over the course of the past decade. They function by capturing an electronic image of each vote on each ballot. As ballots are fed through digital scanners, the scanners automatically create an electronic image of each ballot that is automatically stored as an electronic file.  In the 2018 general election in Florida, there were approximately 3,000 so-called “lost votes.” Sautter claims that those votes would have been counted if the ballot images were preserved, and thus there would have been a more accurate account.

Florida: Lawsuit seeks to force Florida counties to preserve digital ballot images | Allison Ross/Tampa Bay Times

A national nonprofit that advocates for election security has spearheaded a lawsuit against Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee and several county elections officials in an attempt to force them to preserve images of ballots that are made when paper ballots are scanned into voting machines. The lawsuit, filed late Wednesday in Leon County Circuit Court, asks that the state issue instructions in time for the Aug. 18 primary election to require all county supervisors of elections to capture and preserve the images. The group of plaintiffs includes the Florida Democratic Party, three state legislators who are up for re-election and Dan Helm, a Democrat running for Pinellas County supervisor of elections. Other voters are also plaintiffs, including Susan Pynchon, executive director of the Florida Fair Elections Coalition. The suit names Lee, who oversees the state’e elections system, as a defendant, along with the state’s director of the division of elections and the supervisors of elections in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Broward, Orange, Lee, Duval, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties.

Florida: As elections go digital, Democratic legislators want state to preserve the images | Mary Ellen Klas/Miami Herald

Should Florida keep a digital image of every ballot that gets recorded on vote scanning machines? That is the question three Florida Democratic legislators want a judge to decide in a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Leon County Circuit Court. They say it’s time the state stop the practice of destroying digital images of ballots after an election, especially with the state’s reputation for razor-thin election margins. The lawsuit, by Rep. Joseph S. Geller, D-Aventura, Rep. Geraldine Thompson, D-Windermere, Sen. Victor M. Torres, D-Kissimmee, Dan Helm, a candidate for Supervisor of Elections in Pinellas County, as well as eight voters and the Florida Democratic Party, asks a judge to require the state to order local election officials to retain the ballot images from optical scanning machines for 22 months. State and federal laws require that paper ballots be retained, but there is no requirement that the images used to verify the ballots be kept as well. The lawsuit asks that ballot images be treated as public records available for inspection and production. “We believe that local election officials want to follow the law, but they need clear direction from the Secretary of State, who is the chief elections officer for the State of Florida, and the courts,” said attorney Chris Sautter, who also serves as counsel to AUDIT Elections USA. The complaint was filed in the Second Judicial Circuit in Leon County.

Florida: Election supervisors can use auditing systems to recount ballots | Jeffrey Schweers/Tallahassee Democrat

Florida’s local election supervisors can use their independent auditing systems – which are not part of the voting system – to recount ballots under a bill signed over the weekend by Gov. Ron DeSantis. The long-sought permission will save time and taxpayer money resolving disputed or close elections by allowing supervisors to use high-speed automatic…

Florida: Judge chips away at mail-in ballots case in Florida | Dara Kam/News Service of Florida

Laying the groundwork for an upcoming trial in a case seeking to expand the state’s vote-by-mail procedures, a federal judge on Friday tossed out an effort by left-leaning groups to require county elections officials to pay for postage for mail-in ballots. U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle held a status conference in preparation for a July 20 trial in the case, which is a consolidation of legal challenges focused largely on the state’s mail-in ballot processes. The trial is expected to last at least 10 days and will come a little more than three months before the November elections. In one of the lawsuits, the organization Priorities USA and other plaintiffs have urged the judge to extend a deadline for mail-in ballots to be returned and require free postage for the ballots. They’re also challenging a provision in Florida law restricting paid workers from collecting mail-in ballots. Earlier in the week, Hinkle rejected the plaintiffs’ argument that requiring voters to pick up the tab for stamps amounts to an unconstitutional “poll tax,” saying the cost for postage was no different than the price voters have to pay to take public transportation to cast their ballots in person.

Florida: Lawyer says ex-Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin illegally voted in Florida, asks Aramis Ayala to pursue charges | Katie Rice/Orlando Sentinel

A man running for election supervisor in Pinellas County is asking Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala pursue charges against Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis ex-cop accused of killing George Floyd, alleging he voted illegally in two Florida elections. Dan Helm, a Democrat and attorney, sent Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala a letter notifying her of Chauvin’s voting record. “While living in Minnesota, working there, paying taxes there, Derek Chauvin cannot claim residency in Orange County. His home, residency and where he intends to live is in Minnesota, not Florida,” Helm wrote. His letter cites the Florida statute prohibiting false swearing and the submission of false voter registration information, adding that violation of the statute is a third-degree felony. “I encourage you to hold people accountable for their actions, especially breaking the laws of our state,” Helm wrote.

Florida: Vote by mail helps Florida Republicans. So why is Trump bashing it? | Allison Ross/Tampa Bay Times

Florida Republicans have long embraced vote by mail as a reliable method to turn out their base. And the Republican Party of Florida says it doesn’t plan to stop anytime soon. But as with many things in this unprecedented 2020 election in the age of the coronavirus, voting by mail has suddenly become a controversial and partisan issue. The reason why is the same as nearly everything else in politics these days: President Donald Trump. The country’s top Republican, who is a Florida resident and has himself voted by mail, has repeatedly attacked expanded use of mail-in ballots in recent weeks. Earlier this month, he tweeted a threat to withhold federal funding for Michigan for going down the “voter fraud path” of sending absentee voter applications to all registered voters. He’s said voting that way has “tremendous potential for voter fraud.” But Trump has also made comments that appear to signal a concern that greater access to voting by mail could increase turnout and aid Democrats, who have historically been less likely to vote by mail in Florida and in some other states.

Florida: Lawsuit aims to make it easier to mail in votes | James Call/The Palm Beach Post

A retired police captain who helps the elderly, an Ocala minister and a Miami man confined to his home don’t want the coronavirus to disrupt this year’s presidential election. They have banded together as lawsuit plaintiffs to take Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee and Leon County Supervisor of Elections Mark Earley to court. The goal is to make vote by mail the default choice for Florida’s 13.7 million registered voters. Florida has recorded more than 2,000 COVID-19 deaths since March.  More than 80% of the fatalities have been people over 65, and more than a quarter have been people of color, who make up about a fifth of the state’s population. In a complaint filed last week in Leon County, the plaintiffs argue that fear of COVID-19 threatens to rob the vote of Floridians who are part of high-risk groups like themselves, and similar people to whom they assist and minister. Their attorney, Harvey Sepler of Miami, explained no one knows the kind of threat the virus will pose during the August primary and November general election. The ability of many people to vote may depend on alternative voting methods, the suit says. The solution, according to former Marion County Sheriff’s Captain Dennis McFatten; Cynthia Cotto Grimes, senior minister at the Center for Spirtual Living in Ocala, and Art Young of Miami is to make vote by mail the first option for Floridians.

Florida: GOP enters legal fray over Florida vote-by-mail | Gary Fineout/Politico

Republicans are seeking to join a high-stakes voting rights battle in Florida, claiming that Democrat-aligned groups are using the coronavirus outbreak as an excuse to strike down voting laws. The Republican National Committee, the Republican Party of Florida and the National Republican Congressional Committee on Thursday asked a federal judge for permission to intervene in a lawsuit brought against Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, and state and local election officials. “Democrats never let a crisis go to waste, and they are using a pandemic to completely destroy the integrity of our elections,” RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a written statement. The case, she said, “exposes Florida to potential fraud.” A group of Florida voters, Democratic super PAC Priorities USA and other Democratic-leaning organizations filed the lawsuit in U.S. district court in Tallahassee in early May. The case seeks to throw out state ballot-return deadlines and laws limiting who is allowed to collect vote-by-mail ballots and return them to local election offices.

Florida: No charges filed in Florida Democrats’ mail vote fraud probe | Ana Ceballos/Miami Herald

State law-enforcement officials found “no evidence of fraudulent intent” by the Florida Democratic Party after more than a yearlong investigation into alleged vote-by-mail fraud, records show. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement on Wednesday released records tied to an investigation into Democratic Party members altering election forms at the tail end of the 2018 election cycle, which was dominated by three statewide recounts. Investigators found “no evidence of fraudulent intent to use the altered forms” on April 20 and handed the case over to the Florida Office of Statewide Prosecution to determine if there was enough evidence and information to file charges. “It is closed now, so prosecutors have determined no charges,” Jessica Cary, a spokeswoman for FDLE, wrote in an email Wednesday to The News Service of Florida. Florida Statewide Prosecutor Nick Cox said Wednesday there was a “lack of sufficient evidence to support prosecution” in the case.

Florida: A Trump election conspiracy collapses | Marc Caputo/Politico

A Trump election conspiracy theory has fallen apart after Florida’s law enforcement agency said it had found no widespread voter fraud in the 2018 races for Senate and governor. President Donald Trump had complained repeatedly about election “fraud” and theft in heavily populated, Democrat-rich Broward and Palm Beach counties, which had slowly but erratically updated their vote totals after polls closed on Election Day. With each updated tally, Republican candidates Rick Scott, who was running for U.S. Senate, and Ron DeSantis, in a bid for the governor’s mansion, saw their margins of victory narrow. Both races ultimately went to recounts. It’s common for election margins to change as more ballots are counted, but Scott, who was governor at the time, claimed without evidence that the counts reeked of Democratic fraud, a conspiracy theory Trump amplified on Twitter. Scott called for an investigation. Trump backed him up. “Law Enforcement is looking into another big corruption scandal having to do with Election Fraud in #Broward and Palm Beach. Florida voted for Rick Scott!” wrote Trump on Nov. 8, 2018.  In a tweet the next day, the president falsely accused Democrats of sending “their best Election stealing lawyer, Marc Elias, to Broward County they miraculously started finding Democrat votes. Don’t worry, Florida – I am sending much better lawyers to expose the FRAUD!” But neither Trump’s unnamed “lawyers” nor the Florida Department of Law Enforcement found evidence of a “big corruption scandal.” The state took more than 17 months to wrap up its investigation Wednesday, and found none of the wrongdoing alleged by Trump and Scott.

Florida: Groups say federal funding for election efforts during coronavirus | Dave Berman/Florida Today

A coalition of voting-rights advocacy organizations on Wednesday urged the state to do more to assure that there would be full access to elections in the current time of the coronavirus pandemic. During a video news conference, they pushed for the state to help local supervisors of elections gain access to federal money from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, including for measures to accommodate the expected increase in people voting by mail. They also want to increase the time periods for early in-person voting. That would reduce the potential for long lines of voters on Election Day, allow for social distancing, and better protect poll workers and voters from risk of infection. “Florida’s voters deserve a safe, efficient and fair election,” said Patricia Brigham, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida. “We expect nothing less.”  One proposal would be to have county supervisors of election mail every voter information on how to obtain a vote-by-mail ballot, including a mail ballot request form.

Florida: After pleas, Secretary of State requests federal coronavirus money for election | Allison Ross/Tampa Bay Times

Following public prodding from county elections officials and others, the Florida Secretary of State has requested more than $20 million in federal money to prepare for the 2020 elections amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Florida Supervisors of Elections, a bipartisan association of the state’s county elections officials, had urged the state for about a month to request the money and make it available as soon as possible as the Sunshine State gears up for the Aug. 18 primary and November general election. The money is Florida’s share of $400 million in federal aid for elections as part of the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. Every state is required to make a 20 percent match; in Florida’s case, that’s roughly $4 million.

Florida: Election officials push DeSantis on COVID-19 voting changes | Anthony Man/South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Florida elections supervisors said Wednesday that Gov. Ron DeSantis needs to “act immediately” to take steps to alleviate coronavirus-caused strains on the state’s voting systems. They want emergency changes in state rules, and they said DeSantis needs to access $20.2 million in federal money to help pay for election changes necessitated by the pandemic. While Florida waits, other states are out buying up supplies. A letter to DeSantis indicated frustration on the part of the 67 county supervisors of elections, who sent him a detailed request for emergency changes in election rules on April 7. Five weeks later, the supervisors are still waiting. Primaries for congressional, county and state legislative nominations and nonpartisan elections for school board and judges are on Aug. 18. But mail ballots for military and overseas voters go out July 4 and early voting in some counties starts on Aug. 3. “Our request for executive action cannot wait any longer,” Craig Latimer, president of the Florida Association of Supervisors of Elections, wrote in Wednesday’s follow up.

Florida: State election officials provide little direction as election season arrives amid the pandemic | Allison Ross/Tampa Bay Times

As local election officials across Florida scramble to prepare for one of the most divisive presidential races in U.S. history, they say state officials are providing little support to help them brace for the added challenge of protecting voters in a global pandemic. A chief concern among county elections officials is whether the state will take $20 million in federal funds awarded to protect the 2020 elections in the state as part of the $2 trillion coronavirus relief package that became law in March. On Wednesday, the Florida Supervisors of Elections, a bipartisan group that represents the state’s 67 county-level elections offices, urged Gov. Ron DeSantis to accept the money. “I…want to express my concern that Florida is lagging behind nearly every other state in securing (federal) funding for elections,” Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer wrote for the group on Wednesday. “While we wait, the goods and services we need are becoming scarce.”

Florida: Supervisors want DeSantis to take CARES Act money | Alex Daugherty and David Smiley/Miami Herald

Florida is one of just four states that have yet to accept federal funds to prepare for elections during the coronavirus pandemic, and the state’s election supervisors are urging Gov. Ron DeSantis to take the money now. The Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections, a bipartisan group that represents county-level election supervisors across the state, sent a letter to DeSantis on Wednesday urging him to take $20 million in funds awarded to Florida as part of the $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill that became law in March. The letter is a follow-up to one the group sent a month ago, asking DeSantis to help supervisors prepare for the coming August and November elections by granting them some flexibility under the law — a request that has gone unanswered. “I … want to express my concern that Florida is lagging behind nearly every other state in securing CARES Act funding for elections,” Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer wrote Wednesday. “While we wait, the goods and services we need are becoming scarce.”