Elections officials across Florida say they expect former felons to flock to their offices to register to vote next month when a newly passed ballot initiative launches one of the largest enfranchisement efforts in modern U.S. history. But partisan politics and logistical questions are clouding the Jan. 8 rollout of a state constitutional amendment that could restore voting rights to more than 1 million ex-felons in Florida. Democrats and voting rights advocates cried foul this week when Governor-elect Ron DeSantis, a Republican and critic of the measure known as Amendment 4, said the Republican-controlled state legislature must first pass a law to implement its changes.
Articles about voting issues in Florida.
Florida: Lawmakers might not give voting rights back to felons, even though 64% of voters want them to | Business Insider
Florida lawmakers might not be ready to put Amendment 4 — a measure approved by 64.5% of Florida voters that would give voting rights back to most felons who have completed their sentences — into action. According to WFTV 9, a local news station in Florida, the state has put enforcement of the amendment on pause until the new governor, Republican Ron DeSantis, is sworn in. WFTV reported that lawmakers are waiting to see if the Florida Legislature might need to weigh in on the measure. The amendment, which would restore voting rights to more than 1.5 million felons, does not call for any involvement of this kind. In Florida, 23% of African-American adults cannot vote due to a previous felony conviction. Amendment 4, the measure that would change that, received wide support among residents in a state with strict clemency laws. It was scheduled to take effect on January 8.
Florida: Ron DeSantis says Amendment 4 should be delayed until he signs bill from lawmakers | Tampa Bay Times
In an interview with the Palm Beach Post’s George Bennett, Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis said that Amendment 4, which was approved by 64.6 percent (or 5.2 million) of Florida voters, shouldn’t go into effect as intended by the people who wrote the ballot measure. Instead, DeSantis said the amendment, which would restore voting rights for most ex-felons who have served their sentences, should take effect after state lawmakers pass “implementing language” in a bill that is then sent to him for his signature. That means at least a two month delay in restoring felon rights. Advocates of Amendment 4, like the American Civil Liberties Union, say the measure should go into effect on Jan. 8, but session doesn’t start until March 5. This could deny voting rights for many in Tampa hoping to cast a ballot in the mayor’s race.
After one of the most contentious midterms in state history, House Democrats are preparing a package of election reforms to extend voting deadlines, standardize election processes across counties and improve the signature matching process ahead of the 2020 elections. But Republican leaders have suggested such reforms are not high on their priority list going into next year’s session. In a wide-ranging Wednesday morning workshop, Democrats batted around several proposals including adjusting voting and registration deadlines, eliminating prohibitions on counting early votes and requiring signature-matching training for supervisors and canvassing boards. Democrats also raised the possibility of alternative means of verifying voters’ identities — like using the last four digits of Social Security numbers — and pushing supervisors to update old voting equipment to minimize counting delays.
A contested election. Accusations of election fraud. Widespread attention from the national media. No, it’s not in Florida, which has had its fair share of election hijinks over the decades. It’s in North Carolina, where a Congressional race might get a rare election do-over after allegations surfaced that a political operative helped the Republican candidate win by illegally collecting absentee, or vote-by-mail, ballots. The case highlights a notable difference between the two states, however: North Carolina has much tougher laws than Florida when it comes to voting by mail. Although Florida, like many states, has imposed strong voter ID laws for casting a ballot at a polling place, it’s done virtually nothing to stop fraud in the vote-by-mail process.
Florida officials say thousands of mailed ballots were not counted because they were delivered too late to state election offices. The Department of State late last week informed a federal judge that 6,670 ballots were mailed ahead of the Nov. 6 election but were not counted because they were not received by Election Day. The tally prepared by state officials includes totals from 65 of Florida’s 67 counties. The two counties yet to report their totals are Palm Beach, a Democratic stronghold in south Florida, and Polk in central Florida. Three statewide Florida races, including the contest for governor, went to state-mandated recounts because the margins were so close.
Florida voters spoke clearly four weeks ago: They restored the right to vote to most convicted felons who complete their sentences. When it becomes Florida law in five weeks, an estimated 1.2 million felons will be eligible to rejoin the voter rolls. But at a statewide elections conference Tuesday, it was obvious that confusion and uncertainty still hovers over implementation of Amendment 4. The state announced that it has stopped transmitting documents counties use to remove convicted felons from the rolls. One official said the issue requires more research on how to carry out the will of the people. “The state is putting a pause button on our felon identification files,” Division of Elections director Maria Matthews told election supervisors from most of the state’s 67 counties at a mid-winter meeting. “We need this time to research it, to be sure we are providing the appropriate guidance.”
Florida: Palm Beach County is the lone county to reject sensors that detect hackers | Tampa Bay Times
To help deter hackers from infiltrating voting systems, the federal government offered all of Florida’s 67 counties a tool to detect and monitor electronic intruders. While the technology does not stop hackers, it alerts officials about possible threats and allows them to respond faster when data may be at risk. Only one county—Palm Beach—rejected the technology in the months prior to Election Day. That could change now that Palm Beach County plans to update its system next year. “We didn’t think it was a good time to put some function on a legacy system,” said Palm Beach Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher. “We’ll take a look next year when we buy new equipment.”
The fallout over Florida’s turbulent recount is escalating after the state’s outgoing Republican governor decided to oust a South Florida elections official. Gov. Rick Scott late Friday suspended embattled Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes even though Snipes had already agreed to step down from her post in early January. Scott replaced Snipes with his former general counsel even though Peter Antonacci has no elections experience. Snipes responded by rescinding her previous resignation – and will now be “fighting this to the very end,” her attorney said during a Saturday news conference. “We believe these actions are malicious,” said Burnadette Norris-Weeks, who said that Broward County voters should be concerned about what Scott is trying to do in the Democratic stronghold by putting in an ally who could oversee the office into the 2020 elections.
When the dust settled from the 2018 Florida Senate recount, Republican Rick Scott had beaten Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson by 10,033 votes. Give or take a few hundred. Maybe more. As the New York Times put it on November 16, in what was one of the more understated headlines of the year, “Nearly 3,000 Votes Disappeared from Florida’s Recount. That’s Not Supposed to Happen.” No, it’s not. The American people are asked to have a bit of faith in our system of government, but no faith should be required when it comes to election results. Faith depends on believing in things unseen, and ballots can be seen and touched, counted and recounted. But in a few counties in Florida, election officials essentially asked the voters to close their eyes, click their heels together three times, and believe that their initial unofficial results were correct, even though hundreds or thousands of votes had gone missing during the machine recount.