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florida > The Florida Election Code > Voting Methods And Procedure

§ 101.62 Request for vote-by-mail ballots.

Overview of Statute

This statute governs the procedure by which voters can request vote-by-mail ballots. Voters may request ballots either in person, in writing, or over the phone. Requests for vote-by-mail ballot must be made no later than 5 PM 6 days before the election.

Statute

(1)

(a) The supervisor shall accept a request for a vote-by-mail ballot from an elector in person or in writing. One request shall be deemed sufficient to receive a vote-by-mail ballot for all elections through the end of the calendar year of the second ensuing regularly scheduled general election, unless the elector or the elector’s designee indicates at the time the request is made the elections for which the elector desires to receive a vote-by-mail ballot. Such request may be considered canceled when any first-class mail sent by the supervisor to the elector is returned as undeliverable.

(b) The supervisor may accept a written or telephonic request for a vote-by-mail ballot to be mailed to an elector’s address on file in the Florida Voter Registration System from the elector, or, if directly instructed by the elector, a member of the elector’s immediate family, or the elector’s legal guardian; if the ballot is requested to be mailed to an address other than the elector’s address on file in the Florida Voter Registration System, the request must be made in writing and signed by the elector. However, an absent uniformed service voter or an overseas voter seeking a vote-by-mail ballot is not required to submit a signed, written request for a vote-by-mail ballot that is being mailed to an address other than the elector’s address on file in the Florida Voter Registration System. For purposes of this section, the term “immediate family” has the same meaning as specified in paragraph (4)(c). The person making the request must disclose:

1. The name of the elector for whom the ballot is requested.
2. The elector’s address.
3. The elector’s date of birth.
4. The requester’s name.
5. The requester’s address.
6. The requester’s driver license number, if available.
7. The requester’s relationship to the elector.
8. The requester’s signature (written requests only).
(c) Upon receiving a request for a vote-by-mail ballot from an absent voter, the supervisor of elections shall notify the voter of the free access system that has been designated by the department for determining the status of his or her vote-by-mail ballot.
(2) A request for a vote-by-mail ballot to be mailed to a voter must be received no later than 5 p.m. on the sixth day before the election by the supervisor of elections. The supervisor of elections shall mail vote-by-mail ballots to voters requesting ballots by such deadline no later than 4 days before the election.
(3) For each request for a vote-by-mail ballot received, the supervisor shall record the date the request was made, the date the vote-by-mail ballot was delivered to the voter or the voter’s designee or the date the vote-by-mail ballot was delivered to the post office or other carrier, the date the ballot was received by the supervisor, the absence of the voter’s signature on the voter’s certificate, if applicable, and such other information he or she may deem necessary. This information shall be provided in electronic format as provided by rule adopted by the division. The information shall be updated and made available no later than 8 a.m. of each day, including weekends, beginning 60 days before the primary until 15 days after the general election and shall be contemporaneously provided to the division. This information shall be confidential and exempt from s. 119.07(1) and shall be made available to or reproduced only for the voter requesting the ballot, a canvassing board, an election official, a political party or official thereof, a candidate who has filed qualification papers and is opposed in an upcoming election, and registered political committees for political purposes only.
(4)
(a) No later than 45 days before each presidential preference primary election, primary election, and general election, the supervisor of elections shall send a vote-by-mail ballot as provided in subparagraph (c)2. to each absent uniformed services voter and to each overseas voter who has requested a vote-by-mail ballot.
(b) The supervisor of elections shall mail a vote-by-mail ballot to each absent qualified voter, other than those listed in paragraph (a), who has requested such a ballot, between the 35th and 28th days before the presidential preference primary election, primary election, and general election. Except as otherwise provided in subsection (2) and after the period described in this paragraph, the supervisor shall mail vote-by-mail ballots within 2 business days after receiving a request for such a ballot.

(c) The supervisor shall provide a vote-by-mail ballot to each elector by whom a request for that ballot has been made by one of the following means:

1. By nonforwardable, return-if-undeliverable mail to the elector’s current mailing address on file with the supervisor or any other address the elector specifies in the request.
2. By forwardable mail, e-mail, or facsimile machine transmission to absent uniformed services voters and overseas voters. The absent uniformed services voter or overseas voter may designate in the vote-by-mail ballot request the preferred method of transmission. If the voter does not designate the method of transmission, the vote-by-mail ballot shall be mailed.
3. By personal delivery before 7 p.m. on election day to the elector, upon presentation of the identification required in s. 101.043.
4. By delivery to a designee on election day or up to 5 days prior to the day of an election. Any elector may designate in writing a person to pick up the ballot for the elector; however, the person designated may not pick up more than two vote-by-mail ballots per election, other than the designee’s own ballot, except that additional ballots may be picked up for members of the designee’s immediate family. For purposes of this section, “immediate family” means the designee’s spouse or the parent, child, grandparent, or sibling of the designee or of the designee’s spouse. The designee shall provide to the supervisor the written authorization by the elector and a picture identification of the designee and must complete an affidavit. The designee shall state in the affidavit that the designee is authorized by the elector to pick up that ballot and shall indicate if the elector is a member of the designee’s immediate family and, if so, the relationship. The department shall prescribe the form of the affidavit. If the supervisor is satisfied that the designee is authorized to pick up the ballot and that the signature of the elector on the written authorization matches the signature of the elector on file, the supervisor shall give the ballot to that designee for delivery to the elector.
5. Except as provided in s. 101.655, the supervisor may not deliver a vote-by-mail ballot to an elector or an elector’s immediate family member on the day of the election unless there is an emergency, to the extent that the elector will be unable to go to his or her assigned polling place. If a vote-by-mail ballot is delivered, the elector or his or her designee shall execute an affidavit affirming to the facts which allow for delivery of the vote-by-mail ballot. The department shall adopt a rule providing for the form of the affidavit.
(5) If the department is unable to certify candidates for an election in time to comply with paragraph (4)(a), the Department of State is authorized to prescribe rules for a ballot to be sent to absent uniformed services voters and overseas voters.
(6) Nothing other than the materials necessary to vote-by-mail shall be mailed or delivered with any vote-by-mail ballot.

History:

s. 2, ch. 7380, 1917; RGS 369; CGL 430; s. 1, ch. 25385, 1949; s. 5, ch. 26870, 1951; s. 32, ch. 28156, 1953; s. 21, ch. 29934, 1955; s. 2, ch. 59-213; s. 32, ch. 65-380; s. 1, ch. 67-33; s. 2, ch. 69-136; s. 4, ch. 69-280; s. 2, ch. 70-93; ss. 1, 2, ch. 71-149; s. 5, ch. 73-157; s. 39, ch. 73-333; s. 2, ch. 75-174; s. 21, ch. 77-175; s. 40, ch. 79-400; s. 2, ch. 83-16; s. 6, ch. 83-251; s. 1, ch. 85-226; s. 4, ch. 86-199; s. 4, ch. 87-363; s. 2, ch. 87-538; s. 28, ch. 89-338; s. 20, ch. 90-360; s. 587, ch. 95-147; s. 3, ch. 96-57; s. 25, ch. 96-406; s. 13, ch. 98-129; s. 32, ch. 99-2; s. 6, ch. 99-140; s. 52, ch. 2001-40; s. 5, ch. 2001-75; s. 18, ch. 2003-415; s. 6, ch. 2004-33; s. 43, ch. 2005-277; s. 37, ch. 2005-278; s. 16, ch. 2005-286; s. 30, ch. 2007-30; s. 7, ch. 2010-167; s. 37, ch. 2011-40; s. 17, ch. 2013-37; s. 11, ch. 2013-57; s. 16, ch. 2016-37.

Definition [Polling Place]

The building which contains the polling room where ballots are cast. Fla. Stat. § 97.021(27).

Definition [Overseas Voter]

(a) An absent uniformed services voter who, by reason of active duty or service, is absent from the United States on the date of the election involved;

(b) A person who resides outside the United States and is qualified to vote in the last place in which the person was domiciled before leaving the United States; or

(c) A person who resides outside the United States and, but for such residence, would be qualified to vote in the last place in which the person was domiciled before leaving the United States.

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. Fla. Stat. § 97.021(16).

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 [Uniformed Services]

The Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard, the commissioned corps of the Public Health Service, and the commissioned corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Fla. Stat. § 97.021(2).

Definition [Political Committee]

1. A combination of two or more individuals, or a person other than an individual, that, in an aggregate amount in excess of $500 during a single calendar year:

a. Accepts contributions for the purpose of making contributions to any candidate, political committee, affiliated party committee, or political party;

b. Accepts contributions for the purpose of expressly advocating the election or defeat of a candidate or the passage or defeat of an issue;

c. Makes expenditures that expressly advocate the election or defeat of a candidate or the passage or defeat of an issue; or

d. Makes contributions to a common fund, other than a joint checking account between spouses, from which contributions are made to any candidate, political committee, affiliated party committee, or political party;

2. The sponsor of a proposed constitutional amendment by initiative who intends to seek the signatures of registered electors.

(b) Notwithstanding paragraph (a), the following entities are not considered political committees for purposes of this chapter:

1. National political parties, the state and county executive committees of political parties, and affiliated party committees regulated by chapter 103.

2. Corporations regulated by chapter 607 or chapter 617 or other business entities formed for purposes other than to support or oppose issues or candidates, if their political activities are limited to contributions to candidates, political parties, affiliated party committees, or political committees or expenditures in support of or opposition to an issue from corporate or business funds and if no contributions are received by such corporations or business entities.

3. Electioneering communications organizations as defined in subsection (9). Fla. Stat. § 106.11(16).

 

Definition [Absent Uniformed Services Voter]
(a) A member of a uniformed service on active duty who, by reason of such active duty, is absent from the place of residence where the member is otherwise qualified to vote;
(b) A member of the merchant marine who, by reason of service in the merchant marine, is absent from the place of residence where the member is otherwise qualified to vote; or
(c) A spouse or dependent of a member referred to in paragraph (a) or paragraph (b) who, by reason of the active duty or service of the member, is absent from the place of residence where the spouse or dependent is otherwise qualified to vote.
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 [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 [Emergency]

Any occurrence, or threat thereof, whether accidental, natural, or caused by human beings, in war or in peace, that results or may result in substantial injury or harm to the population or substantial damage to or loss of property to the extent it will prohibit an election officer’s ability to conduct a safe and orderly election.

Cases

florida Cases

Case Name: Cobb v. Thurman

Citation: 957 So.2d 638

Year: 2006

Case URL: https://www.ravellaw.com/opinions/9bb232d6758fd440b7c1aecce47ae227?query=957%20S[...]

Case Summary: Cobb v. Thurman held that the Secretary of State’s posted notice that a vote for a withdrawn congressional candidate from an opposing political party would be a vote for the party’s substitute candidate violated the impartiality requirements of the Election Code, but that the notice proposed by the supervisors of elections, which also stated that a vote for the withdrawn candidate was a vote for the substituted candidate, but also included the names of every other candidate for that office, satisfied the impartiality requirements under the Election Code.

Case Name: Taylor v. Martin County Canvassing Board

Citation: 773 So.2d 517

Case URL: https://www.ravellaw.com/opinions/13535f26daa17975e8807c582dd264ab?query=Taylor%[...]

Case Summary: Taylor v. Martin County Canvassing Board held that when political parties sent out pre-printed absentee ballot request forms, but one of the parties made a mistake in the printing process, the process used to rectify the mistake did not negatively impact the sanctity of the ballot or the integrity of the election.

Case Name: Jacobs v. Seminole County Canvassing Board

Citation: 773 So.2d 519

Year: 2000

Case URL: https://www.ravellaw.com/opinions/bbc22e7b8203ca912b53e2b149e446f0?query=773%20S[...]

Case Summary: Jacobs initially filed a complaint contesting the certification of election results in the 2000 presidential election. The Circuit Court denied all relief and Jacobs appealed. The appellate court certified the question to the Florida Supreme Court. The Florida Supreme Court then held that the conduct of the county supervisor of elections was not illegal disparate treatment and that the information provided on application for absentee ballots was enough to establish the qualifications of each applicant. Therefore, the supervisor's conduct did not amount to fraud, gross negligence, or intentional wrongdoing.

Out-of-State Cases

Federal Cases

Case Name: Bush v. Hillsborough County Canvassing Board

Citation: 123 F.Supp.2d 1305

Federal District Court: Northern District of Florida

Year: 2000

Case URL: https://www.ravellaw.com/opinions/cbbd8533143ea8cb573ddc7a5d76b9ed?query=Bush%20[...]

Case Summary: Bush v. Hillsborough County Canvassing Board held that all federal write-in ballots that were signed pursuant to the oath provided but that were rejected just because the ballot envelope did not have an APO, FPO, or foreign postmark, or just because there was no record of an application for a state absentee ballot, were valid.

Regulations & Guidance

Additional Resources

Further Reading

  • Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 160, Generally

  • Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 161, Request or application for ballot

  • Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 162, Request or application for ballot-Overseas voters; electronic means for receiving overseas votes

  • Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 163, Furnishing ballots

  • Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 230, Theft, destruction, alteration, or wrongful possession or handling of ballots and election equipment and records