Florida

Articles about voting issues in Florida.

Florida: Palm Beach, ground zero for 2018 vote recount, didn’t apply for election security cash | Politico

Palm Beach County officials failed to tap election security funds available for the 2018 midterms, making it the only jurisdiction in the state that didn’t seek a share of the federal aid. Nearly $2 million in federal funds was made available to the state for hardware and software support, including server installations and network monitoring, ahead of the 2018 midterm elections. In a presentation to the House Transportation and Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee on Wednesday, state elections director Maria Matthews said 66 of 67 Florida counties applied for the funds, news that angered lawmakers. “Once again, the Palm Beach supervisors office has proven that they have been woefully mismanaged,” said state Rep. Blaise Ingoglia, a Spring Hill Republican who led the Republican Party of Florida during the 2018 election cycle. “It’s clear to me that making deadlines was not their forte.”

Full Article: Palm Beach, ground zero for 2018 vote recount, didn’t apply for election security cash.

Florida: Key election officials have no previous election experience | Associated Press

Florida’s new secretary of state and two key election supervisors in some of the state’s most-populous counties have never run an election. The officials have taken over central roles for future elections, with no previous experience besides voting themselves. They include recently appointed Secretary of State Laurel Lee, Broward County Supervisor of Elections Peter Antonacci and Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Wendy Link. Broward and Palm Beach are the second- and third-largest counties in Florida by the number of registered voters, with a total of more than 2.1 million voters – and far more registered Democrats than Republicans. nGov. Ron DeSantis appointed Lee, 44, when former Secretary of State Michael Ertel resigned after a photo surfaced of him wearing blackface.

Full Article: Key election officials have no previous election experience | Myrtle Beach Sun News.

Florida: State: 83,000 voters in Florida didn’t cast a valid ballot | Associated Press

Whether they meant to or not, more than 83,000 Florida voters didn’t cast a valid vote for governor, according to a new report prepared by state officials. The combined total of invalid ballots outnumbered Republican Ron DeSantis’s margin of victory over Democrat Andrew Gillum by more than 50,000 votes. The race between DeSantis and Gillum was so close that it triggered an automatic statewide recount. More than 8.2 million votes were cast in the high-profile race for governor that attracted national attention. The total number of “non-valid votes” was 1 percent, which was a lower rate than either the 2016 presidential election or the 2014 governor’s race. These “non-valid votes” include ballots with write-in names such as Mickey Mouse and ballots that were left blank. It also includes those with votes for more than one candidate. More than 50,000 of the invalid ballots were left blank, suggesting that some people opted to skip the governor’s race.

Full Article: State: 83,000 voters in Florida didn’t cast a valid ballot - The Washington Post.

Florida: Unanswered Amendment 4 questions frustrate felon voting rights advocates | Tampa Bay Times

More than two weeks after Amendment 4 expanded voting rights to more than a million ex-felons in Florida, nagging questions over details persist. And as state officials wait on lawmakers for answers, advocates are getting frustrated. Some 45 people turned out for a panel discussion Saturday where activists celebrated the landmark law. But irritation simmered under the surface, rising when they couldn’t provide concrete answers to questions about eligibility and penalties. The amendment, passed in November’s general election, allows citizens who aren’t convicted murderers or sex offenders to register to vote as soon as they complete their sentences. Previously, a felony conviction meant lifetime disenfranchisement unless a person overcame long odds with the state’s clemency board. Now the problem is this question: what constitutes a murder conviction? Differences between charges have led lawmakers to begin debating which crimes outlined in the state’s homicide statute should exclude ex-felons from voting — to the chagrin of the law’s advocates.

Full Article: Unanswered Amendment 4 questions frustrate felon voting rights advocates.

Florida: Florida Secretary of State Mike Ertel resigns over blackface photos | Tallahassee Democrat

Thursday morning, Michael Ertel, appointed Secretary of State by Gov. Ron DeSantis weeks earlier, testified before a House committee about the several lawsuits filed over the 2018 election. By mid-afternoon, Ertel turned in his resignation, after photos emerged of him posing as a Hurricane Katrina victim in blackface at a private Halloween party 14 years ago. The photos obtained by the Tallahassee Democrat were shown to the Governor’s Office shortly after noon Thursday. About two hours later it issued a terse statement.  “The governor accepted Secretary Ertel’s resignation,” the Governor’s Office said.

Full Article: Florida Secretary of State Mike Ertel resigns over blackface photos.

Florida: Legislature starts work on Amendment 4 with confusion over ‘murder’ exception | Tampa Bay Times

A key Senate panel on Tuesday began grappling with how to carry out a constitutional amendment that “automatically” restores the right to vote to felons who’ve completed their sentences. At the outset of the meeting, Senate Criminal Justice Chairman Keith Perry vowed not to have “any kind of hindrance or roadblocks” in implementing Amendment 4, approved by nearly 65 percent of voters in November. At the top of the to-do list for the committee: figure out the definition of “murder.” The amendment granted “automatic” restoration of voting rights to felons “who have completed all terms of their sentence, including parole or probation.” The amendment excluded people “convicted of murder or a felony sexual offense.” But a 90-minute Criminal Justice Committee panel discussion Tuesday revealed confusion about the “murder” exception.

Full Article: Legislature starts work on Amendment 4 with confusion over ‘murder’ exception | Tampa Bay Times.

Florida: Amendment 4 questions stump Florida legislators | Tallahassee Democrat

Confusion reigned while lawmakers discussed the implementation of Amendment 4, the restoration of voting rights for certain felons who have completed their sentence. The tone and direction of the exchange in a Senate committee room Tuesday was just what proponents feared if lawmakers got their hands on the voter-approved initiative. Some Supervisor of Elections Offices began to register eligible felons on Jan. 8 although Gov. Ron DeSantis has urged them to wait until the Legislature clarifies implementation of the initiative during the upcoming session.

Full Article: Amendment 4 questions stump Florida legislators.

Florida: Election advocates eye Florida fixes for 2020 | Salon

The 2020 presidential race could come down to Florida. But unless drastic changes are made, election advocates believe the next presidential vote count in the Sunshine State will be yet another mess. They say that Florida in 2018 once again served as an example of how not to run an election. Their concerns involve voting machines vulnerabilities and partisan election officials who lack necessary qualifications. And those officials repeatedly demonstrate that winning seems to be more important to them than democracy. It doesn’t have to be that way, critics say. Florida has laws on the books that would allow it to run clean and transparent elections. They just aren’t being applied. Election management continues to be a problem and it is lacking uniformity in procedures and practices. The destruction of ballot images during primary and general elections in 2018 and in previous elections in the state is a major issue for concerned Florida voters, who have filed a lawsuit against the state to ensure all Florida voting officials follow the law.

Full Article: Election advocates eye Florida fixes for 2020 | Salon.com.

Florida: DeSantis rescinds Rick Scott’s suspension of Broward County elections supervisor Brenda Snipes | Miami Herald

Brenda Snipes received about the closest thing to an apology she’s likely to get from Florida’s governor, when Ron DeSantis on Friday rescinded his predecessor’s suspension of the former Broward County elections supervisor. But that doesn’t mean she’s getting her job back. In an executive order, DeSantis voided a Nov. 30 directive issued by former Gov. Rick Scott removing Snipes from office. DeSantis said he was instead accepting the Jan. 4 resignation that Snipes had submitted on the final day of a controversial midterm election recount, granting her the soft exit she’d wanted (albeit without the quiet goodbye).

Full Article: DeSantis rescinds Rick Scott’s suspension of Brenda Snipes | Miami Herald.

Florida: Amendment 4 leads to massive daily registration numbers for a non-election year | Tampa Bay Times

Tampa Bay treated Tuesday like a voting rights holiday. Or, more accurately, Tampa Bay treated Tuesday like it was a business day in September or October just weeks before a presidential election. Hillsborough and Pinellas counties processed a combined 872 applications to register to vote on the day, the first day Amendment 4 expanded voting rights access to most felons who had completed their sentences. You can look at that number in two ways. In one way, it’s tiny: There are likely more than 130,000 people who just gained their right to vote in those counties, according to a Times analysis. In another way, it’s enormous. There is no general election in 2019, and off-years rarely see a day where more than a few hundred people register to vote in the region.

Full Article: Amendment 4 leads to massive daily registration numbers for a non-election year | Tampa Bay Times.

Florida: Restoration of voting rights for ex-felons marks shift in Florida | The Hill

More than 1 million Floridians with felony convictions regained the right to vote on Tuesday, setting in motion a process that carries the potential to reshape elections in the country’s largest and most unpredictable battleground state. The mass re-enfranchisement of felons who have completed their sentences is the result of Amendment 4, a ballot initiative approved by nearly 65 percent of Florida voters in November that ends a longtime policy requiring felons to petition the state clemency board for their voting rights to be restored. The move expands the pool of eligible voters in Florida by roughly 1.4 million people — a significant number in a state where elections are often decided by fewer than 100,000 votes — setting off a scramble to register eligible felons. 

Full Article: Restoration of voting rights by felons marks shift in Florida | TheHill.

Florida: Judge: ousted Broward elections chief must get a hearing | Miami Herald

As signs build that Florida’s new governor may suspend Broward County’s elected sheriff from office, a federal judge has ruled that the state’s former governor overstepped when he effectively fired Broward County’s elections supervisor. In a Wednesday evening order, U.S. District Court Judge Mark Walker found that Rick Scott exceeded his authority when, on the heels of a controversial election recount, he suspended Brenda Snipes from office. Due to the timing of her removal and her plans to resign in early January, Snipes was left without the ability to challenge her ouster or contest the allegations contained in Scott’s executive order. Walker declined to reinstate Snipes, a 15-year veteran of the elections department, which she had sought in the form of a preliminary injunction. He also agreed that the Florida Senate was right to deny her a hearing that by law is typically afforded politicians who seek to challenge a suspension by the governor.

Full Article: Judge: ousted Broward elections chief must get a hearing | Miami Herald.

Florida: Rick Scott violated Broward County election supervisor’s rights with suspension | Associated Press

Former Gov. and current U.S. Sen. Rick Scott violated a former state election official’s constitutional rights when he suspended and “vilified” her without first allowing her to make her own case, a Florida federal judge ruled Wednesday. U.S. District Judge Mark Walker said newly inaugurated Gov. Ron DeSantis must grant former Broward County elections supervisor Brenda Snipes a “meaningful opportunity to be heard” regarding her suspension by March 31. Snipes came under fire during the contentious recount that followed the 2018 elections and a legally required recount in close races for governor and U.S. Senate. In the aftermath of the November election, Snipes said she would resign on Jan. 4, but Scott immediately suspended her. Snipes then attempted to rescind her resignation and challenged the governor’s suspension as “malicious” and politically motivated.

Full Article: Florida recount: Rick Scott violated Broward County election supervisor's rights with suspension.

Florida: ‘I became somebody’: Former felons register to vote in Florida through Amendment 4 | Miami Herald

For the past 25 years, Anthony Bushell has served as his community’s unofficial Election Day chauffeur, transporting the elderly and homeless to and from polling places for local, statewide and federal races. And every election, while the voters Bushell ferried cast their ballots, his criminal record has kept him on the political sidelines. His last vote came in the 1992 presidential election for Bill Clinton, who was then the governor of Arkansas. On Tuesday, Bushell walked out of the Miami-Dade County Supervisor of Elections Office a newly registered voter, one of several formerly incarcerated Floridians to register to vote after the passage of constitutional Amendment 4, which restored voting rights for an estimated 1.2 million felons — as many as 400,000 of those in South Florida, according to a Tampa Bay Times analysis.

Full Article: Felons register to vote in Florida. | Miami Herald.

Florida: State Set to Restore Voting Rights to Felons Amid Threats of Lawsuits | Wall Street Journal

Some Florida officials are balking at the state’s new amendment restoring voting rights to about 1.4 million people with felony records that is set to take effect Tuesday. Amendment 4, which Florida voters passed in November with nearly 65% support, re-enfranchises felons who have completed all terms of their sentences, including probation or parole, but doesn’t apply to those convicted of murder or sexual offenses. Opponents, including Republican Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis, say before the amendment can be implemented, the legislature needs to pass a bill to clarify its terms and fulfill its intent. Supporters say it should be implemented immediately. The disagreement is generating confusion and the threat of lawsuits. The measure produced the largest expansion of voting rights in the U.S. since the 26th Amendment reduced the voting age to 18 in 1971. It could have significant implications in a state where elections often are decided by paper-thin margins.

Full Article: Florida Set to Restore Voting Rights to Felons Amid Threats of Lawsuits - WSJ.

Florida: ‘A joyous day’ ahead as 1.4 million Florida ex-felons have voting rights restored | The Washington Post

One of the largest enfranchisements of U.S. citizens in the past century begins Tuesday in Florida, and many of the more than 1.4 million ex-felons set to regain their voting rights here are treating the moment as a celebration. In Tampa, one group is renting buses to register en masse at the county elections office. Others will be live-streaming on Facebook as they march in. Demetrius Jifunza, convicted as a teen of armed robbery, is now a father and pastor who wants to make his daughters proud. “It’ll be a joyous day,” Jifunza said of the trip to the Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections office, a journey made possible when voters in November overturned Florida’s 1868 ban blocking residents with felony convictions from automatically having their voting rights restored once they served their sentences. In the run-up to Tuesday, the organizations and volunteers who worked for the past decade to pass the amendment to the state constitution have been ramping up their efforts to encourage ex-felons to quickly follow through. There’s a toll-free number, 877-MY-VOTE-0, and a website with tips.

Full Article: ‘A joyous day’ ahead as 1.4 million Florida ex-felons have voting rights restored - The Washington Post.

Florida: Convicted felons worry red tape will delay restoring voting rights | WKMG

Next Tuesday, more than a million ex-felons will get their chance to register to vote again. This comes after more than 60 percent of Florida residents voted to approve Amendment 4 in November giving felons convicted of non-violent crimes who have served their time and paid all court fees the right to vote. Prior to Amendment 4, felons had to wait at least five years after completing their sentence before they could file a request to restore their voting rights with the Florida governor and Cabinet. About 1.5 million people are affected. Nearly all states allow felons to vote after completing their sentences. However, some ex-felons worry there may be a delay in restoring their voting rights after Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis told the Palm Beach Post last month that the amendment should take effect after lawmakers meet in March and pass “implementing language” in a bill that he signs.

Full Article: Florida's convicted felons worry red tape will delay restoring....

Florida: More Than A Million Florida Felons Aren’t Sure Yet Whether They Can Register To Vote | NPR

Beginning Jan. 8, more than a million new people may be able to register to vote in Florida. They’re convicted felons who have served their sentences and finished their parole or probation. In November, voters in the state overwhelmingly passed a ballot initiative for a constitutional amendment to restore voting rights to felons in Florida, convicted murderers and sex offenders excluded. It was one of the few remaining states to automatically restrict felons’ ability to vote. But the incoming governor, Republican Ron DeSantis, some state lawmakers and election officials say they need to weigh in on the amendment before any changes are made. “It says that voting rights ‘shall be restored.’ I don’t know what is unclear about that,” says Howard Simon, who was the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida for decades before retiring last month. He helped draft the ballot amendment and calls it “self-executing.” Meaning — no one has to touch it.

Full Article: More Than A Million Florida Felons Aren't Sure Yet Whether They Can Register To Vote : NPR.

Florida: Fight brews over felons’ voting rights in Florida | The Hill

When Florida voters approved a sweeping ballot initiative last month to restore the voting rights of some felons, advocates rejoiced in the expectation that more than a million people would soon have the chance to add their names to the voter rolls. Now, a fight is brewing between the broad coalition of civil and voting rights groups that backed the measure and some state and local officials who argue that lawmakers must shape its implementation given the wide-ranging nature of the initiative. That has raised concerns among some of the measure’s supporters that any action by opponents could lead to legislation that lingers in the state Capitol, months after they expected it to begin. The growing uncertainty over how — and when — the measure, known as Amendment 4, will take effect has stirred confusion among county election officials and raised the prospect of a bitter legal dispute over the voting rights of roughly 1.4 million people convicted of felonies.

Full Article: Fight brews over felons’ voting rights in Florida | TheHill.

Florida: Former elections official Snipes sues to be returned to job | The Hill

Former Broward County election chief Brenda Snipes is suing outgoing Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) over his decision last month to suspend her, arguing that it was “malicious and politically motivated.” Snipes, who filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, is seeking to be reinstated to her position.  “The suspension by Governor Scott, operating in concert with the public airing of the allegations against Snipes, deprived her of liberty and property rights without constitutionally adequate procedures,” her lawsuit reads. In addition to Scott, the lawsuit also lists Florida Senate President Bill Galvano as a defendant. 

Full Article: Former Florida elections official Snipes sues to be returned to job | TheHill.