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Florida > The Florida Election Code > Voting Methods And Procedure

§ 101.5606 Requirements for approval of systems.

Overview of Statute

This statute governs the requirements for the approval of voting systems. Voting systems can only be approved if: they permit and require secret voting; they permit every voter to vote at all elections for every candidate and office for whom the voter is entitled to vote; they reject ballots if the number of votes exceeds the number that the voter is entitled to cast, or if no votes have been cast; they accept rejected marksense ballots if voters choose to cast the ballot, but records no vote for offices that have been either over or under voted; they are capable of correctly counting votes; they permit all voters at primaries to vote for the correct political party’s candidate; they permit all voters to vote for all presidential electors of a party, or for all electors with not affiliation; they provide a method for write-in voting; they are capable of accumulating a specific number count; they are capable of counting votes from ballots of different political parties; they can automatically produce precinct totals; they allow voters to change votes for candidates or for any question, if the system registers votes electronically; they are capable of providing records; they use precinct-count tabulation systems; and they do not use anything that would allow the voter to pierce the ballots.

Statute

No electronic or electromechanical voting system shall be approved by the Department of State unless it is so constructed that:

(1) It permits and requires voting in secrecy.
(2) It permits each elector to vote at any election for all persons and offices for whom and for which the elector is lawfully entitled to vote, and no others; to vote for as many persons for an office as the elector is entitled to vote for; and to vote for or against any question upon which the elector is entitled to vote.
(3) It immediately rejects a ballot where the number of votes for an office or measure exceeds the number which the voter is entitled to cast or where the tabulating equipment reads the ballot as a ballot with no votes cast.
(4) For systems using marksense ballots, it accepts a rejected ballot pursuant to subsection (3) if a voter chooses to cast the ballot, but records no vote for any office that has been overvoted or undervoted.
(5) It is capable of correctly counting votes.
(6) It permits each voter at a primary election to vote only for the candidates seeking nomination by the political party in which such voter is registered, for any candidate for nonpartisan office, and for any question upon which the voter is entitled to vote.
(7) At presidential elections it permits each elector, by one operation, to vote for all presidential electors of a party or for all presidential electors of candidates for President and Vice President with no party affiliation.
(8) It provides a method for write-in voting.
(9) It is capable of accumulating a count of the specific number of ballots tallied for a precinct, accumulating total votes by candidate for each office, and accumulating total votes for and against each question and issue of the ballots tallied for a precinct.
(10) It is capable of tallying votes from ballots of different political parties from the same precinct, in the case of a primary election.
(11) It is capable of automatically producing precinct totals in printed form.
(12) If it is of a type which registers votes electronically, it will permit each voter to change his or her vote for any candidate or upon any question appearing on the official ballot up to the time that the voter takes the final step to register his or her vote and to have the vote computed.
(13) It is capable of providing records from which the operation of the voting system may be audited.
(14) It uses a precinct-count tabulation system.
(15) It does not use an apparatus or device for the piercing of ballots by the voter.

History:

s. 6, ch. 73-156; s. 21, ch. 77-175; s. 10, ch. 84-302; s. 10, ch. 89-348; s. 578, ch. 95-147; s. 17, ch. 99-318; s. 18, ch. 2001-40; s. 10, ch. 2002-17; s. 35, ch. 2005-277; s. 32, ch. 2011-40.

Annotation: March 16, 2016 6:45 pm

Following the highly publicized 2000 Presidential Election, the Florida Legislature outlawed punch card voting systems. Counties using punchcard systems had an error rate of 3.83%.
Although many believe that the high error rate was attributed in large part to the ballot design in some of these counties, the publicity surrounding the “hanging chads” was enough for the Legislature to prohibit further use of these systems.

Annotation: 6:41 pm

Following the 2000 Presidential Election, the Florida Legislature outlawed central count tabulation systems. Counties using central count tabulation systems had an error rate of 5.69%, while counties using precinct count systems had an error rate of .79%. The average error rate of central count optical scan counties was higher than the error rate of any of the other voting systems in use in the state.

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. Fla. Stat. § 97.021(45).
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. Fla. Stat. § 97.021(29).

Definition [Nonpartisan Office]

An office for which a candidate is prohibited from campaigning or qualifying for election or retention in office based on party affiliation. Fla. Stat. § 97.021(22).

Definition [Issue]

A proposition that is required by the State Constitution, by law or resolution of the Legislature, or by the charter, ordinance, or resolution of a political subdivision of this state to be submitted to the electors for their approval or rejection at an election, or a proposition for which a petition is circulated in order to have such proposition placed on the ballot at an election. Fla. Stat. § 106.011(13).

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. Fla. Stat. § 101.5603(2).

Definition [Person]

An individual or a corporation, association, firm, partnership, joint venture, joint stock company, club, organization, estate, trust, business trust, syndicate, or other combination of individuals having collective capacity. The term includes a political party, affiliated party committee, or political committee. Fla. Stat. § 106.011(14).

Definition [Elector]

“Elector” is synonymous with the word “voter” or “qualified elector or voter,” except where the word is used to describe presidential electors. Fla. Stat. § 97.021(15).

Definition [Election]

Any primary election, special primary election, special election, general election, or presidential preference primary election. Fla. Stat. § 97.021(12).

Definition [Overvote]

The elector marks or designates more names than there are persons to be elected to an office or designates more than one answer to a ballot question, and the tabulator records no vote for the office or question. Fla. Stat. § 97.021(25).

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. Fla. Stat. § 97.021(6).
Definition [Undervote]

The elector does not properly designate any choice for an office or ballot question, and the tabulator records no vote for the office or question. Fla. Stat. § 97.021(39).

Cases

florida Cases

Case Name: Sarasota Alliance for Fair Elections, Inc. v. Browning

Citation: 28 So.3d 880

Year: 2010

Case URL: https://www.ravellaw.com/opinions/d7674593077064c593b61614ebd3b14a

Case Summary: Sarasota Alliance for Fair Elections, Inc. v. Browning held that the state’s Election Code does not preempt the field of election law.

Out-of-State Cases

Federal Cases

Case Name: Florida Democratic Party v. Hood

Citation: 342 F.Supp.2d 1073

Federal District Court: Northern District of Florida

Year: 2004

Case URL: https://www.ravellaw.com/opinions/f8ed406a86e6040346d1c9bb29736aaa?query=Florida[...]

Case Summary: Florida Democratic Party v. Hood held that the Florida Democratic Party had standing to sue on behalf of voters who would be denied the chance to cast provisional ballots; that HAVA did not require ballots cast in wrong precincts to be counted; that HAVA did require that voters who thought they were registered be given the chance to cast provisional ballots; and that requirements for issuing a preliminary injunction requiring the distribution of provisional ballots were satisfied, after the Party sued Florida, seeking a preliminary injunction preventing election workers from denying provisional ballots to prospective voters who they believed were not registered.

Case Name: Wexler v. Lepore (federal)

Citation: 342 F. Supp. 2d 1097

Federal District Court: Southern District of Florida

Year: 2004

Case URL: https://www.ravellaw.com/opinions/d62da39f2d02d9313ee18e623a681e91

Case Summary: Wexler v. Lepore held that Florida's updated standards for manual recounts in counties that used touchscreen or optical scan systems complied with the 5th and 14th Amendments' equal protection requirements because the standards were uniform and non-differential.

Regulations & Guidance

Additional Resources

Further Reading

  • Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 148, Adoption and approval of system

  • Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 157, Secrecy in voting

  • Electronic Voting Systems, 12 A.L.R. 6th 523

  • Constitutionality of statutes providing for use of voting machines, 66 A.L.R. 855

  • 0050 Surveys 8; Marking and Counting of Ballots