vote

While vote by mail has been growing steadily in popularity, the pandemic made this the method of choice for many more voters than ever before.

During each legislative session, the Florida Supervisors of Elections (FSE), an association of Florida’s 67 elections officials, shares information with state legislators on policy measures that could positively impact the conduct of elections and voter experience in Florida. While we have already put forth a list of legislative priorities, we feel there is a need to provide some perspective around some vote-by-mail reforms that have been discussed.

Maureen "Mo" Baird

Maureen "Mo" Baird

In 2020, Florida was universally praised for our exemplary conduct of elections — from the very highest offices at the federal and state level to our most important stakeholders, voters. This was due in large part to the strong laws currently in place around vote by mail. While vote by mail has been growing steadily in popularity, the pandemic made this the method of choice for many more voters than ever before. During the 2020 cycle, Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order allowing us to start processing mail ballots sooner, and the suggestion to codify this into law is appreciated and supported by FSE. Our ability to keep up with vote by mail tabulation as the ballots were received was a key factor in our ability to report almost all of Florida’s results on Election Night.

In Florida, only voters who request mail ballots may receive them. Supervisors cannot send vote-by-mail ballots to all voters. This is good policy. Canceling the current requests that voters have on file with our offices, which has been suggested by some lawmakers, is a disservice to voters who are already expecting to receive mail ballots in 2022. Lawmakers should also be aware that this would come at a significant cost to taxpayers, as Supervisors will be required to send mailings to millions of voters to let them know their request is no longer valid. In addition, requiring voters to renew their request for mail ballots every election cycle, instead of every two election cycles, also has financial impact, resulting in twice as much clerical work to process the requests.

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Craig Latimer

Craig Latimer is president of the Florida Supervisors of Elections.

Finally, concern has been expressed about the use of vote by mail drop boxes. Florida’s Supervisors adhere to the current law, which requires us to have secure drop boxes at all elections offices and early voting sites, and allows drop boxes at any sites that would otherwise qualify as an early voting site. We agree that voted ballots must remain secure and protected at all times. If lawmakers feel the need to clarify requirements around how to secure drop boxes, that would be supported by FSE. However, Florida’s Supervisors of Elections strongly disagree with the idea of eliminating drop boxes. This would create an unnecessary barrier for voters who like to receive their ballots in the mail and return them in person. In fact, voters who used drop boxes in 2020 expressed appreciation for their convenience and security. Nearly 1.5 million voters chose this option.

Florida’s Supervisors of Elections feel strongly that we must be advocates for our voters. It’s our intention that all eligible voters have convenient and ample opportunities to vote, and that the elections in which they cast their ballots are safe and secure. The three methods of voting currently provided for in law, and the flexibility provided to Supervisors around these methods, is critical to ensuring we can serve our voters efficiently and effectively.

Craig Latimer is president of the Florida Supervisors of Elections. Maureen “Mo” Baird is the Citrus County Supervisor of Elections.

(2) comments

SHC

There's rampant fraud affecting elections in Florida, but it's almost always perpetrated by politicians, not voters. I can think of three recent examples right off the top of my head: US House Rep Matt Gaetz (R) tried to rig an election with a "ghost candidate" to siphon votes from a buddy's opponent; Gaetz's jailbird friend and former Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg (R) committed fraud to sandbag an opponent; and Former Republican Sen. Frank Artiles successfully rigged a South Florida election this year.

Red state governors, including DeSantis, are using Trump's big lie about election fraud to perpetrate a power grab. In all cases, their aim is to suppress the vote, and in some cases, they will make elections LESS safe rather than more so by concentrating power in the hands of crooked state legislatures. Republicans always talk about VOTER fraud, which study after independent study has shown is practically nonexistent. The real danger is ELECTION fraud, where crooked officials use the power of their office to steal elections. It happened in South Florida last November, in our so-called exemplary, gold-standard 2020 election. Artiles brazenly stole a seat in the Florida legislature.

The new law in Georgia contains a change that will make it easier for Republicans in that state to blatantly steal elections because it gives unprecedented power over local election boards to the state legislature. DeSantis is less ambitious so far. He's just trying to make it more inconvenient to vote. People need to wake up and see what's going on. Don't take my word for it. Google it for yourselves.

ChinaJoeBiden

If all states would have had the same effective and safe voting procedures as Florida President Trump would have won a 2nd term and our country would be better off for it... Think about it... :)

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