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§ 101.6952 Vote-by-mail ballots for absent uniformed services and overseas voters.

Overview of Statute

This statute governs various aspects of vote-by-mail ballot requests from members of the uniformed services and overseas voters, including what the supervisor of elections does when provided with email addresses, the federal write-in absentee vote-by-mail ballot process, and how to use postmarks on the mailed ballots, or lack thereof.

Statute

(1) If an absent uniformed services voter’s or an overseas voter’s request for an official vote-by-mail ballot pursuant to s. 101.62 includes an e-mail address, the supervisor of elections shall:

(a) Record the voter’s e-mail address in the vote-by-mail ballot record;
(b) Confirm by e-mail that the vote-by-mail ballot request was received and include in that e-mail the estimated date the vote-by-mail ballot will be sent to the voter; and
(c) Notify the voter by e-mail when the voted vote-by-mail ballot is received by the supervisor of elections.
(2)
(a) An absent uniformed services voter or an overseas voter who makes timely application for but does not receive an official vote-by-mail ballot may use the federal write-in absentee ballot to vote in any federal, state, or local election.
(b)
1. In an election for federal office, an elector may designate a candidate by writing the name of a candidate on the ballot. Except for a primary or special primary election, the elector may alternatively designate a candidate by writing the name of a political party on the ballot. A written designation of the political party shall be counted as a vote for the candidate of that party if there is such a party candidate in the race.
2. In a state or local election, an elector may vote in the section of the federal write-in absentee ballot designated for nonfederal races by writing on the ballot the title of each office and by writing on the ballot the name of the candidate for whom the elector is voting. Except for a primary, special primary, or nonpartisan election, the elector may alternatively designate a candidate by writing the name of a political party on the ballot. A written designation of the political party shall be counted as a vote for the candidate of that party if there is such a party candidate in the race. In addition, the elector may vote on any ballot measure presented in such election by identifying the ballot measure on which he or she desires to vote and specifying his or her vote on the measure. For purposes of this section, a vote cast in a judicial merit retention election shall be treated in the same manner as a ballot measure in which the only allowable responses are “Yes” or “No.”
(c) In the case of a joint candidacy, such as for the offices of President/Vice President or Governor/Lieutenant Governor, a valid vote for one or both qualified candidates on the same ticket shall constitute a vote for the joint candidacy.
(d) For purposes of this subsection and except when the context clearly indicates otherwise, such as when a candidate in the election is affiliated with a political party whose name includes the word “Independent,” “Independence,” or a similar term, a voter designation of “No Party Affiliation” or “Independent,” or any minor variation, misspelling, or abbreviation thereof, shall be considered a designation for the candidate, other than a write-in candidate, who qualified to run in the race with no party affiliation. If more than one candidate qualifies to run as a candidate with no party affiliation, the designation may not count for any candidate unless there is a valid, additional designation of the candidate’s name.
(e) Any abbreviation, misspelling, or other minor variation in the form of the name of an office, the name of a candidate, the ballot measure, or the name of a political party must be disregarded in determining the validity of the ballot.
(3)
(a) An absent uniformed services voter or an overseas voter who submits a federal write-in absentee ballot and later receives an official vote-by-mail ballot may submit the official vote-by-mail ballot. An elector who submits a federal write-in absentee ballot and later receives and submits an official vote-by-mail ballot should make every reasonable effort to inform the appropriate supervisor of elections that the elector has submitted more than one ballot.
(b) A federal write-in absentee ballot may not be canvassed until 7 p.m. on the day of the election. A federal write-in absentee ballot from an overseas voter in a presidential preference primary or general election may not be canvassed until the conclusion of the 10-day period specified in subsection (5). Each federal write-in absentee ballot received by 7 p.m. on the day of the election shall be canvassed pursuant to ss. 101.5614(5) and 101.68, unless the elector’s official vote-by-mail ballot is received by 7 p.m. on election day. Each federal write-in absentee ballot from an overseas voter in a presidential preference primary or general election received by 10 days after the date of the election shall be canvassed pursuant to ss. 101.5614(5) and 101.68, unless the overseas voter’s official vote-by-mail ballot is received by 10 days after the date of the election. If the elector’s official vote-by-mail ballot is received by 7 p.m. on election day, or, for an overseas voter in a presidential preference primary or general election, no later than 10 days after the date of the election, the federal write-in absentee ballot is invalid and the official vote-by-mail ballot shall be canvassed. The time shall be regulated by the customary time in standard use in the county seat of the locality.
(4) For vote-by-mail ballots received from absent uniformed services voters or overseas voters, there is a presumption that the envelope was mailed on the date stated on the outside of the return envelope, regardless of the absence of a postmark on the mailed envelope or the existence of a postmark date that is later than the date of the election.
(5) A vote-by-mail ballot from an overseas voter in any presidential preference primary or general election which is postmarked or dated no later than the date of the election and is received by the supervisor of elections of the county in which the overseas voter is registered no later than 10 days after the date of the election shall be counted as long as the vote-by-mail ballot is otherwise proper.

History:

s. 49, ch. 2001-40; s. 6, ch. 2004-232; s. 9, ch. 2010-167; s. 1, ch. 2011-162; s. 17, ch. 2013-57; s. 1, ch. 2015-40; s. 31, ch. 2016-37.
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 [Special Primary Election]

A special nomination election designated by the Governor, called for the purpose of nominating a party nominee to be voted on in a general or special election.

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 [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).

Regulations & Guidance

Additional Resources

Further Reading

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

  • Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 164, Casting ballots

  • Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 177, Treatment of absentee ballots, generally