Topics
Code Section
Florida > The Florida Election Code > Voting Methods And Procedure

§ 101.733 Election emergency; purpose; elections emergency contingency plan.

Overview of Statute

This statute governs what happens when there is an emergency before or during a regular or special election. To ensure that everyone has the chance to vote, the Governor can suspend or delay an election. If this happens, the election should be rescheduled either 10 days after the original date, or as soon as possible.

The Division of Elections must adopt an elections emergency contingency plan, which is meant to provide directions to state and local election officials when an election has been suspended or delayed.

Statute

Because of the existing and continuing possibility of an emergency or common disaster occurring before or during a regularly scheduled or special election, and in order to ensure maximum citizen participation in the electoral process and provide a safe and orderly procedure for persons seeking to exercise their right to vote, generally to minimize to whatever degree possible a person’s exposure to danger during declared states of emergency, and to protect the integrity of the electoral process, it is hereby found and declared to be necessary to designate a procedure for the emergency suspension or delay and rescheduling of elections.

(1) The Governor may, upon issuance of an executive order declaring a state of emergency or impending emergency, suspend or delay any election. The Governor may take such action independently or at the request of the Secretary of State, a supervisor of elections from a county affected by the emergency circumstances, or a municipal clerk from a municipality affected by the emergency circumstances.
(2) The Governor, upon consultation with the Secretary of State, shall reschedule any election suspended or delayed due to an emergency. The election shall be held within 10 days after the date of the suspended or delayed election or as soon thereafter as is practicable. Notice of the election shall be published at least once in a newspaper of general circulation in the affected area and, where practicable, broadcast as a public service announcement on radio and television stations at least 1 week prior to the date the election is to be held.

(3) The Division of Elections of the Department of State shall adopt, by rule, an elections emergency contingency plan, which shall contain goals and policies that give specific direction to state and local elections officials when an election has been suspended or delayed due to an emergency. The contingency plan shall be statewide in scope and shall address, but not be limited to, the following concerns:

(a) Providing a procedure for state and local elections officials to follow when an election has been suspended or delayed to ensure notice of the suspension or delay to the proper authorities, the electorate, the communications media, poll workers, and the custodians of polling places.
(b) Providing a procedure for the orderly conduct of a rescheduled election, whether municipal, county, district, or statewide in scope; coordinating those efforts with the appropriate elections official, and the members of the governing body holding such election, if appropriate; and working with the appropriate emergency management officials in determining the safety of existing polling places or designating additional polling places.
(c) Providing a procedure for the release and certification of election returns to the department for elections suspended or delayed and subsequently rescheduled under the provisions of ss. 101.731101.74.

History:

s. 3, ch. 92-16.

Definition [Polling Place]

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

Definition [Governing Body]

As used in ss. 101.292-101.295, “governing body” means the board of county commissioners of a county or any other governing body empowered by general or special act or local ordinance to purchase or sell voting equipment. Fla. Stat. § 101.292(1).

Definition [Special Election]

A special election called for the purpose of voting on a party nominee to fill a vacancy in the national, state, county, or district office. Fla. Stat. § 97.021(34).

Definition [Communications Media]

Broadcasting stations, newspapers, magazines, outdoor advertising facilities, printers, direct mail, advertising agencies, the Internet, and telephone companies; but with respect to telephones, an expenditure is deemed to be an expenditure for the use of communications media only if made for the costs of telephones, paid telephonists, or automatic telephone equipment to be used by a candidate or a political committee to communicate with potential voters but excluding the costs of telephones incurred by a volunteer for use of telephones by such volunteer; however, with respect to the Internet, an expenditure is deemed an expenditure for use of communications media only if made for the cost of creating or disseminating a message on a computer information system accessible by more than one person but excluding internal communications of a campaign or of any group.

Definition [Newspaper of General Circulation]

A newspaper printed in the language most commonly spoken in the area within which it circulates and which is readily available for purchase by all inhabitants in the area of circulation, but does not include a newspaper intended primarily for members of a particular professional or occupational group, a newspaper the primary function of which is to carry legal notices, or a newspaper that is given away primarily to distribute advertising. Fla. Stat. § 97.021(20).

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 [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.

Regulations & Guidance

Additional Resources

Further Reading

  • Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 120, Time of holding election-Elections Emergency Act

  • “Election Day Challenges to Polling Hours and the Judiciary’s Cautious Response” 27 Buff. Pub. Int. L.J. 1

  • “The State of Democracy After Disaster: How to Maintain the Right to Vote for Displaced Citizens” 17 S. Cal. Interdisc. L.J. 203

  • “Voting and Democracy VI. Voting in Times of Crisis” 119 Harv. L. Rev. 1176

  • “Right Without a Remedy? The ‘Butterfly Ballot’ Case and Court-Ordered Federal Election ‘Revotes’” 10 Geo. Mason L. Rev. 215