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florida > The Florida Election Code > Election Code: Violations; Penalties

§ 104.31 Political activities of state, county, and municipal officers and employees.

Statute

(1) No officer or employee of the state, or of any county or municipality thereof, except as hereinafter exempted from provisions hereof, shall:

(a) Use his or her official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with an election or a nomination of office or coercing or influencing another person’s vote or affecting the result thereof.
(b) Directly or indirectly coerce or attempt to coerce, command, or advise any other officer or employee to pay, lend, or contribute any part of his or her salary, or any money, or anything else of value to any party, committee, organization, agency, or person for political purposes. Nothing in this paragraph or in any county or municipal charter or ordinance shall prohibit an employee from suggesting to another employee in a noncoercive manner that he or she may voluntarily contribute to a fund which is administered by a party, committee, organization, agency, person, labor union or other employee organization for political purposes.
(c) Directly or indirectly coerce or attempt to coerce, command, and advise any such officer or employee as to where he or she might purchase commodities or to interfere in any other way with the personal right of said officer or employee.

The provisions of this section shall not be construed so as to prevent any person from becoming a candidate for and actively campaigning for any elective office in this state. All such persons shall retain the right to vote as they may choose and to express their opinions on all political subjects and candidates. The provisions of paragraph (a) shall not be construed so as to limit the political activity in a general, special, primary, bond, referendum, or other election of any kind or nature, of elected officials or candidates for public office in the state or of any county or municipality thereof; and the provisions of paragraph (a) shall not be construed so as to limit the political activity in general or special elections of the officials appointed as the heads or directors of state administrative agencies, boards, commissions, or committees or of the members of state boards, commissions, or committees, whether they be salaried, nonsalaried, or reimbursed for expense. In the event of a dual capacity of any member of a state board, commission, or committee, any restrictive provisions applicable to either capacity shall apply. The provisions of paragraph (a) shall not be construed so as to limit the political activity in a general, special, primary, bond, referendum, or other election of any kind or nature of the Governor, the elected members of the Governor’s Cabinet, or the members of the Legislature. The provisions of paragraphs (b) and (c) shall apply to all officers and employees of the state or of any county or municipality thereof, whether elected, appointed, or otherwise employed, or whether the activity shall be in connection with a primary, general, special, bond, referendum, or other election of any kind or nature.

(2) An employee of the state or any political subdivision may not participate in any political campaign for an elective office while on duty.
(3) Any person violating the provisions of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
(4) Nothing contained in this section or in any county or municipal charter shall be deemed to prohibit any public employee from expressing his or her opinions on any candidate or issue or from participating in any political campaign during the employee’s off-duty hours, so long as such activities are not in conflict with the provisions of subsection (1) or s. 110.233.

History:

s. 8, ch. 26870, 1951; s. 7, ch. 29615, 1955; s. 5, ch. 29936, 1955; s. 1, ch. 59-208; s. 18, ch. 65-379; s. 53, ch. 71-136; ss. 1, 2, ch. 74-13; s. 1, ch. 75-261; s. 30, ch. 79-190; s. 1, ch. 80-207; s. 628, ch. 95-147; s. 1, ch. 2006-275.

Definition [Public Office]

Any federal, state, county, municipal, school, or other district office or position which is filled by vote of the electors.

Definition [Public Office]

A state, county, municipal, or school or other district office or position that is filled by vote of the electors.

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.

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.

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.

Definition [Election]

Any primary election, special primary election, special election, general election, or presidential preference primary election.

Definition [Purchase]

As used in ss. 101.292-101.295, “purchase” means a contract for the purchase, lease, rental, or other acquisition of voting equipment.

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.