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florida > The Florida Election Code > Voting Methods And Procedure

§ 101.151 Specifications for ballots.

Overview of Statute

This statute governs the specifications for ballots. Marksense ballots are to be printed on paper thick enough that the words cannot be seen from the back, and must meet the specifications of the voting system used to count the ballots. Early voting locations can use a ballot-on-demand system to print individual ballots, including provisional ballots. This technology can also be used to print marksense absentee and election-day ballots. In a general election, a blank space is also to be provided under each office, if a write-in candidate has qualified for that office. The Department of State must set rules calling for a uniform primary and general election ballot for each certified voting system. The rules must include clear ballot instructions,  individual race layouts, and overall ballot layouts. The rules must provide a graphic example of a uniform ballot for each certified voting system.

Statute

(1)

(a) Marksense ballots shall be printed on paper of such thickness that the printing cannot be distinguished from the back and shall meet the specifications of the voting system that will be used to tabulate the ballots.

(b) Early voting sites may employ a ballot-on-demand production system to print individual marksense ballots, including provisional ballots, for eligible electors pursuant to s. 101.657. Ballot-on-demand technology may be used to produce marksense vote-by-mail and election-day ballots.

(2)

(a) The ballot must include the following office titles above the names of the candidates for the respective offices in the following order:

1. The office titles of President and Vice President above the names of the candidates for President and Vice President of the United States nominated by the political party that received the highest vote for Governor in the last general election of the Governor in this state, followed by the names of other candidates for President and Vice President of the United States who have been properly nominated.
2. The office titles of United States Senator and Representative in Congress.
3. The office titles of Governor and Lieutenant Governor; Attorney General; Chief Financial Officer; Commissioner of Agriculture; State Attorney, with the applicable judicial circuit; and Public Defender, with the applicable judicial circuit.
4. The office titles of State Senator and State Representative, with the applicable district for the office printed beneath.
5. The office titles of Clerk of the Circuit Court or, when the Clerk of the Circuit Court also serves as the County Comptroller, Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller, when authorized by law; Clerk of the County Court, when authorized by law; Sheriff; Property Appraiser; Tax Collector; District Superintendent of Schools; and Supervisor of Elections.
6. The office titles of Board of County Commissioners, with the applicable district printed beneath each office, and such other county and district offices as are involved in the election, in the order fixed by the Department of State, followed, in the year of their election, by “Party Offices,” and thereunder the offices of state and county party executive committee members.
(b) In a general election, in addition to the names printed on the ballot, a blank space shall be provided under each office for which a write-in candidate has qualified. With respect to write-in candidates, if two or more candidates are seeking election to one office, only one blank space shall be provided.
(c) When more than one candidate is nominated for office, the candidates for such office shall qualify and run in a group or district, and the group or district number shall be printed beneath the name of the office. Each nominee of a political party chosen in a primary shall appear on the general election ballot in the same numbered group or district as on the primary election ballot.
(d) If in any election all the offices as set forth in paragraph (a) are not involved, those offices not to be filled shall be omitted and the remaining offices shall be arranged on the ballot in the order named.
(3)
(a) The names of the candidates of the party that received the highest number of votes for Governor in the last election in which a Governor was elected shall be placed first for each office on the general election ballot, together with an appropriate abbreviation of the party name; the names of the candidates of the party that received the second highest vote for Governor shall be placed second for each office, together with an appropriate abbreviation of the party name.
(b) Minor political party candidates shall have their names appear on the general election ballot following the names of recognized political parties, in the same order as they were qualified, followed by the names of candidates with no party affiliation, in the order as they were qualified.
(4)
(a) The names of candidates for each office shall be arranged alphabetically as to surnames on a primary election ballot.
(b) When two or more candidates running for the same office on a primary election ballot have the same or a similar surname, the word “incumbent” shall appear next to the incumbent’s name.
(5) The primary election ballot shall be arranged so that the offices of Governor and Lieutenant Governor are joined in a single voting space to allow each elector to cast a single vote for the joint candidacies for Governor and Lieutenant Governor, if applicable.
(6) The general election ballot shall be arranged so that the offices of President and Vice President are joined in a single voting space to allow each elector to cast a single vote for the joint candidacies for President and Vice President and so that the offices of Governor and Lieutenant Governor are joined in a single voting space to allow each elector to cast a single vote for the joint candidacies for Governor and Lieutenant Governor.
(7) Except for justices or judges seeking retention, the names of unopposed candidates shall not appear on the general election ballot. Each unopposed candidate shall be deemed to have voted for himself or herself.
(8) In counties subject to multi-language ballot requirements, the supervisor may petition the United States Department of Justice for authorization for the supervisor to print and deliver single-language ballots for each minority language required.

(9)

(a) The Department of State shall adopt rules prescribing a uniform primary and general election ballot for each certified voting system. The rules shall incorporate the requirements set forth in this section and shall prescribe additional matters and forms that include, without limitation:

1. Clear and unambiguous ballot instructions and directions;
2. Individual race layout; and
3. Overall ballot layout.
(b) The department rules shall graphically depict a sample uniform primary and general election ballot form for each certified voting system.

History:

s. 35, ch. 4328, 1895; GS 219; s. 1, ch. 5612, 1907; RGS 264; CGL 320; s. 5, ch. 17898, 1937; ss. 2, 3, ch. 25187, 1949; s. 5, ch. 26870, 1951; s. 3, ch. 29937, 1955; s. 1, ch. 57-235; s. 2, ch. 59-334; s. 8, ch. 65-380; s. 1, ch. 65-52; s. 2, ch. 65-60; s. 8, ch. 65-380; s. 4, ch. 67-386; ss. 10, 35, ch. 69-106; s. 8, ch. 69-281; s. 1, ch. 69-380; s. 37, ch. 73-333; s. 1, ch. 77-102; s. 13, ch. 77-175; s. 33, ch. 79-400; s. 6, ch. 81-105; s. 11, ch. 81-304; s. 9, ch. 82-143; s. 20, ch. 89-338; s. 556, ch. 95-147; s. 14, ch. 99-318; s. 11, ch. 99-326; s. 14, ch. 99-355; s. 7, ch. 2001-40; s. 7, ch. 2002-17; s. 29, ch. 2005-277; s. 5, ch. 2007-30; s. 28, ch. 2011-40; s. 5, ch. 2013-57; s. 6, ch. 2013-109; s. 10, ch. 2016-37.

Definition [Department]

The Department of State.

Definition [Supervisor]

The supervisor of elections.

Definition [Voting System]
A method of casting and processing votes that functions wholly or partly by use of electromechanical or electronic apparatus or by use of marksense ballots and includes, but is not limited to, the procedures for casting and processing votes and the programs, operating manuals, supplies, printouts, and other software necessary for the system’s operation.
Definition [General Election]

An election held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November in the even-numbered years, for the purpose of filling national, state, county, and district offices and for voting on constitutional amendments not otherwise provided for by law.

Definition [Primary Election]

An election held preceding the general election for the purpose of nominating a party nominee to be voted for in the general election to fill a national, state, county, or district office.

Definition [Provisional Ballot]

A conditional ballot, the validity of which is determined by the canvassing board.

Definition [Unopposed Candidate]

A candidate for nomination or election to an office who, after the last day on which a person, including a write-in candidate, may qualify, is without opposition in the election at which the office is to be filled or who is without such opposition after such date as a result of a primary election or of withdrawal by other candidates seeking the same office. A candidate is not an unopposed candidate if there is a vacancy to be filled under s. 100.111(3), if there is a legal proceeding pending regarding the right to a ballot position for the office sought by the candidate, or if the candidate is seeking retention as a justice or judge.

Definition [Ballot]

As used in the Electronic Voting Systems Act, ballot means the card, tape, or other vehicle upon which the elector’s choices are recorded.

Definition [Elector]

“Elector” is synonymous with the word “voter” or “qualified elector or voter,” except where the word is used to describe presidential electors.

Definition [Election]

Any primary election, special primary election, special election, general election, or presidential preference primary election.

Definition [Candidate]

Any person to whom any one or more of the following applies:

(a) Any person who seeks to qualify for nomination or election by means of the petitioning process.
(b) Any person who seeks to qualify for election as a write-in candidate.
(c) Any person who receives contributions or makes expenditures, or gives his or her consent for any other person to receive contributions or make expenditures, with a view to bringing about his or her nomination or election to, or retention in, public office.
(d) Any person who appoints a treasurer and designates a primary depository.
(e) Any person who files qualification papers and subscribes to a candidate’s oath as required by law.
This definition does not include any candidate for a political party executive committee.

Cases

florida Cases

Case Name: Beller v. Adams

Citation: 235 So.2d 502

Year: 1970

Case URL: https://www.ravellaw.com/opinions/c47317dbd23e1a850b78bfb725e19879?query=Beller%[...]

Case Summary: Beller v. Adams held that requiring state-wide minor political party candidates or independent candidates to file petitions with at least 5% of signatures of registered qualified voters of the state before printing the candidate’s name on the general election ballot was not unreasonable, but the deadline of January 1 to obtain a place on the ballot in November of the same year was unreasonable and therefore void.

Out-of-State Cases

Federal Cases

Regulations & Guidance

Additional Resources

Further Reading

  • Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 125, Generally

  • Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 130, Primary election ballots

  • Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 131, Generally

  • Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 132, Office titles

  • Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 133, Multiple candidates nominated for office

  • Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 134, Order

  • Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 146, Performance of voting system

  • Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 189, Generally; vote necessary to constitute choice

  • “Ballot Design As Fail-Safe: An Ounce of Rotation is Worth a Pound of Litigation” 12 Election L.J. 18

  • “Election by Lottery: Ballot Order, Equal Protection, and the Irrational Voter” 13 N.Y.U. J. Legis. & Pub. Pol’y 373