A study of Florida’s past two presidential elections finds that mail ballots were 10 times more likely to be rejected than votes cast at early voting sites or on election day. The study also found that mail ballots cast by youngest voters, blacks and Hispanics were much more likely to be rejected than mail ballots cast by white voters, and that those voters are less likely to cure problems with their ballots when notified by election supervisors than other voters. The study also shows that rejection rates vary widely across the state. The report was produced by Daniel Smith, chairman of the political science department at the University of Florida, on behalf of the ACLU of Florida, whose director, Howard Simon, cited the state’s “uncertain history in election administration” in a conference call with reporters.
Articles about voting issues in Florida.
This November, Florida voters will choose a new governor in one of the nation’s most contested—and consequential—races. But if they look to the bottom of the ballot, they will also be asked to decide whether the right to vote should be granted to 1.5 million former felons who live in the state. With Iowa and Kentucky, Florida is one of just three states in the nation to automatically and permanently keep anyone who has committed a felony from ever voting again. A grassroots movement headed by former felons seeks to change that. Amendment Four’s two leading advocates and most dogged supporters make for strange bedfellows: Neil Volz, a white, conservative former congressional chief of staff who was sentenced to probation for his role in a lobbying scandal; and Desmond Meade, a black, formerly homeless man who served several years in prison for drug and weapon charges. Together, they are asking the state’s voters—citizens, they emphasize, just like them—for forgiveness.
For only the third time this year — but this time under a withering national media glare — Florida’s highest elected officials sat in judgment Tuesday of people whose mistakes cost them the right to vote. During a five-hour hearing, 90 felons made their case to Florida Gov. Rick Scott and three members of the Cabinet, asking to have their rights restored. It was a packed house in the Cabinet room of the state Capitol, as Tuesday’s hearing drew reporters and cameras from, among other outlets, NPR, The Huffington Post and The Guardian. The hearings typically attract one or two members of the Tallahassee press corps.
More than 1.5 million Florida residents are barred from voting in state elections for the rest of their lives, because of a tough law that permanently revokes voting rights for anyone convicted of a felony. But a measure on the November ballot could change that, allowing those who have served their time to cast votes as soon as the 2020 elections. The “Voting Restoration Amendment,” also called Amendment 4, was approved to be on the ballot back in January after gathering the requisite 766,200 signatures and would automatically restore voting rights to felons – murderers and sex offenders not included – who have done prison time, completed parole or probation and paid any restitution. Florida’s ballot measure is part of a broader move over the last few decades to restore voting rights to felons, but is the first to put it to voters to decide.
A federal judge ordered 32 Florida counties to provide sample ballots in Spanish so Puerto Rican voters can use them to navigate English-only ballots in a ruling Friday that was often sarcastic and scolding. A coalition of groups sued the Department of State and the county supervisors in the hope they’d be forced to produce bilingual or Spanish language ballots. While U.S. District Court Judge Mark Walker agreed with the defendants that it would be nearly impossible to change election software and to redesign ballots before the Nov. 6 election, he ordered them to make provisions for Puerto Rican voters. “While lost on some, Puerto Rico is part of the United States,” Walker said in his ruling. “The American flag has flown over the island since 1898, and its people have been American citizens since 1917.”
Florida: Federal judge weighs dispute challenging Florida counties that don’t provide Spanish ballots | Orlando Weekly
A federal judge Wednesday will hear arguments in a lawsuit seeking to require 32 Florida counties to provide Spanish-language ballots and other materials to Puerto Ricans who are eligible to vote in the state. The arguments, which focus heavily on the federal Voting Rights Act, will come almost exactly two months before the Nov. 6 general election. U.S. District Judge Mark Walker will consider a request from plaintiffs for a preliminary injunction that would require Spanish-language ballots and assistance for what are believed to be more than 30,000 Puerto Ricans. “The counties at issue in this case are home to a class of thousands of Spanish-speaking Puerto Ricans —- including those who recently arrived after Hurricane Maria —- who are eligible to vote but are unable to vote effectively in English,” the plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary injunction said. “But despite repeated requests to many of the counties to provide Spanish-language election materials and assistance to protect the rights of these Floridians, the counties continue to conduct English-only elections that effectively deprive those citizens of their right to vote.”
The Duval County Supervisor of Elections Office is using a new vendor for ballot printing this election, and some of those ballots are slightly larger than the specs that allow them to be read by machines at polling locations. WOKV first received reports from some voters, who said their ballots were not being read by the machines, and instead the ballots were being collected by poll workers. Duval Chief Elections Officer Robert Phillips confirms to WOKV that some ballots were printed with a very slight variance from the specs, meaning they are too wide for many of the machines at the polling locations to accept. By Tuesday night, Phillips told WOKV that around 1,700 ballots could not be scanned, across 45 precincts. It appears to be mostly non-partisan ballots having this problem, although there have been some partisan ballots that did not fit as well.
Voting machine issues are cropping up in Jacksonville precincts as Election Day continues. And “unscanned ballots,” some worry, may add drama to the count this evening. The problem: the width of some ballots, mostly but not exclusively NPA, is too broad for the tabulation machine. However, Supervisor of Elections Mike Hogan expressed confidence, saying the size issue “might delay it somewhat but we plan on finishing it tonight.” We reported this morning about ballot tabulation issues at Mandarin’s Precinct 606, where a machine had rejected ballots, requiring a manual count.
Tuesday’s primary is a dry run for democracy in a tense time of cyber-threats. It will be the most thorough test of voting operations since Russian operatives tried to hack Florida voting rolls before the 2016 presidential election. But it’s not one election, it’s 67 — one in every county from the Keys to Pensacola. As counties plan for what’s often a low-turnout election, they have spent millions of dollars safeguarding computer servers, installing surveillance cameras and card readers, building security barriers and training workers to detect threats they can’t see. “We want to make sure that our employees know what a phishing email looks like,” says Lisa Lewis, supervisor of elections in Volusia County, a county the Russians targeted two years ago. “If there’s no subject line, I tell people, ‘Don’t open it.’ ”
Tuesday’s primary is a dry run for democracy in a tense time of cyber-threats. It will be the most thorough test of voting operations since Russian operatives tried to hack Florida voting rolls before the 2016 presidential election. But it’s not one election, it’s 67 — one in every county from the Key West to Pensacola. As counties plan for what’s often a low-turnout election, they have spent millions of dollars safeguarding computer servers, installing surveillance cameras and card readers, building security barriers and training workers to detect threats they can’t see. “We want to make sure that our employees know what a phishing email looks like,” says Lisa Lewis, supervisor of elections in Volusia County, a county the Russians targeted two years ago. “If there’s no subject line, I tell people, ‘Don’t open it.’ ”