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Florida > The Florida Election Code > Conducting Elections And Ascertaining The Results

§ 102.031 Maintenance of good order at polls; authorities; persons allowed in polling rooms and early voting areas; unlawful solicitation of voters.

Overview of Statute

This statute governs the maintenance of order at the polls. Every election board has the authority to maintain order at the polls on election day and during the canvassing of votes. There are deputy sheriffs for every polling place and early voting site to maintain order. The statute then goes on to identify people who are eligible to enter polling rooms during voting hours, and also explains that no one many solicit voters within 100 feet of the polling place.

Statute

(1) Each election board shall possess full authority to maintain order at the polls and enforce obedience to its lawful commands during an election and the canvass of the votes.

(2) The sheriff shall deputize a deputy sheriff for each polling place and each early voting site who shall be present during the time the polls or early voting sites are open and until the election is completed, who shall be subject to all lawful commands of the clerk or inspectors, and who shall maintain good order. The deputy may summon assistance from among bystanders to aid him or her when necessary to maintain peace and order at the polls or early voting sites.

(3)

(a) No person may enter any polling room or polling place where the polling place is also a polling room, or any early voting area during voting hours except the following:

1. Official poll watchers;
2. Inspectors;
3. Election clerks;
4. The supervisor of elections or his or her deputy;
5. Persons there to vote, persons in the care of a voter, or persons caring for such voter;
6. Law enforcement officers or emergency service personnel there with permission of the clerk or a majority of the inspectors; or
7. A person, whether or not a registered voter, who is assisting with or participating in a simulated election for minors, as approved by the supervisor of elections.
(b) The restriction in this subsection does not apply where the polling room is in an area commonly traversed by the public in order to gain access to businesses or homes or in an area traditionally utilized as a public area for discussion.
(4)
(a) No person, political committee, or other group or organization may solicit voters inside the polling place or within 100 feet of the entrance to any polling place, a polling room where the polling place is also a polling room, an early voting site, or an office of the supervisor of elections where vote-by-mail ballots are requested and printed on demand for the convenience of electors who appear in person to request them. Before the opening of the polling place or early voting site, the clerk or supervisor shall designate the no-solicitation zone and mark the boundaries.
(b) For the purpose of this subsection, the terms “solicit” or “solicitation” shall include, but not be limited to, seeking or attempting to seek any vote, fact, opinion, or contribution; distributing or attempting to distribute any political or campaign material, leaflet, or handout; conducting a poll except as specified in this paragraph; seeking or attempting to seek a signature on any petition; and selling or attempting to sell any item. The terms “solicit” or “solicitation” may not be construed to prohibit exit polling.
(c) Each supervisor of elections shall inform the clerk of the area within which soliciting is unlawful, based on the particular characteristics of that polling place. The supervisor or the clerk may take any reasonable action necessary to ensure order at the polling places, including, but not limited to, having disruptive and unruly persons removed by law enforcement officers from the polling room or place or from the 100-foot zone surrounding the polling place.
(d) Except as provided in paragraph (a), the supervisor may not designate a no-solicitation zone or otherwise restrict access to any person, political committee, committee of continuous existence, candidate, or other group or organization for the purposes of soliciting voters. This paragraph applies to any public or private property used as a polling place or early voting site.

(5) No photography is permitted in the polling room or early voting area.

History:

s. 58, ch. 4328, 1895; GS 237; RGS 282; CGL 338; s. 6, ch. 26870, 1951; s. 1, ch. 59-212; s. 25, ch. 77-175; s. 2, ch. 85-205; s. 4, ch. 87-184; s. 15, ch. 87-363; s. 29, ch. 89-338; s. 2, ch. 92-134; s. 598, ch. 95-147; s. 5, ch. 2000-249; s. 54, ch. 2005-277; s. 25, ch. 2008-95; s. 18, ch. 2013-37; s. 18, ch. 2013-57; s. 33, ch. 2016-37.
Former s. 99.38.

Definition [Early Voting]

Casting a ballot prior to election day at a location designated by the supervisor of elections and depositing the voted ballot in the tabulation system. Fla. Stat. § 97.021(9).

Definition [Polling Room]

The actual room in which ballots are cast on election day and during early voting. Fla. Stat. § 97.021(28).

Definition [Contribution]

(a) A gift, subscription, conveyance, deposit, loan, payment, or distribution of money or anything of value, including contributions in kind having an attributable monetary value in any form, made for the purpose of influencing the results of an election or making an electioneering communication.

(b) A transfer of funds between political committees, between electioneering communications organizations, or between any combination of these groups.

(c) The payment, by a person other than a candidate or political committee, of compensation for the personal services of another person which are rendered to a candidate or political committee without charge to the candidate or committee for such services.

(d) The transfer of funds by a campaign treasurer or deputy campaign treasurer between a primary depository and a separate interest-bearing account or certificate of deposit, and the term includes interest earned on such account or certificate.

Notwithstanding the foregoing meanings of “contribution,” the term may not be construed to include services, including, but not limited to, legal and accounting services, provided without compensation by individuals volunteering a portion or all of their time on behalf of a candidate or political committee or editorial endorsements. Fla. Stat. § 106.011(5).

Definition [Polling Place]

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

Definition [Early Voting Area]

The area designated by the supervisor of elections at an early voting site at which early voting activities occur, including, but not limited to, lines of voters waiting to be processed, the area where voters check in and are processed, and the area where voters cast their ballots. Fla. Stat. § 97.021(10).

Definition [Early Voting Site]

Those locations specified in s. 101.657 and the building in which early voting occurs. Fla. Stat. § 97.021(11).

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 [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

Out-of-State Cases

Case State: florida

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.

Federal Cases

Case Name: Citizens for Police Accountability Political Committee v. Browning

Citation: 572 F.3d 1213

Federal Circuit Court: 11th Circuit Court

Year: 2009

Case URL: https://www.ravellaw.com/opinions/7f3067b2745ead101558529dcae1db10?query=572%20F[...]

Case Summary: Under section 102.031 of the Florida Code, members of PACs were barred from soliciting signatures from voters as they exited polling places in an effort to gain enough signatures to get an amendment on a later ballot. The district court enjoined enforcement of the statute, and on appeal, the 11th Circuit held that the statute was narrowly tailored to protect the interest of citizens to vote without fear of intimidation. As such, this section of the Florida Code did not violate the 1st Amendment.

Case Name: Florida Committee for Liability Reform v. McMillan

Citation: 682 F.Supp. 1536

Federal District Court: Middle District of Florida

Year: 1988

Case URL: https://www.ravellaw.com/opinions/3f2a2e8ddb38cac044d533d62982b3bc?query=682%20F[...]

Case Summary: The Florida Committee for Liability Reform wanted to solicit signatures for a petition from voters exiting polling places. The court granted the Committee a preliminary injunction, holding that the Committee had a substantial likelihood of success on the merits.

Regulations & Guidance

Additional Resources

Further Reading

  • Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 314, Soliciting and canvassing

  • Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 29, Election boards-Powers and duties

  • Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 30, Law enforcement officers; special officers

  • Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 136, Regulation of conduct of elections

  • Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 149, Generally

  • West’s A.L.R. Digest 92K1692, Polling places

  • West’s A.L.R. Digest 142TK501, Obstruction of or interference with voters or officers

  • Validity, Construction, and Application of State Statutes Regulating Solicitation or Exit Polling Near Voting Precincts, 65 A.L.R. 6th 441