§ 101.68 Canvassing of vote-by-mail ballot.
Overview of Statute
This statute governs how vote-by-mail ballots are canvassed. County canvassing boards can start canvassing vote-by-mail ballots at 7 AM on the 15th day before the election, but no later than noon the day after the election.
(c) The elector shall provide identification to the supervisor and must complete a vote-by-mail ballot affidavit in substantially the following form:
VOTE-BY-MAIL BALLOT AFFIDAVIT
I, , am a qualified voter in this election and registered voter of County, Florida. I do solemnly swear or affirm that I requested and returned the vote-by-mail ballot and that I have not and will not vote more than one ballot in this election. I understand that if I commit or attempt any fraud in connection with voting, vote a fraudulent ballot, or vote more than once in an election, I may be convicted of a felony of the third degree and fined up to $5,000 and imprisoned for up to 5 years. I understand that my failure to sign this affidavit means that my vote-by-mail ballot will be invalidated.
(d) Instructions must accompany the vote-by-mail ballot affidavit in substantially the following form:
READ THESE INSTRUCTIONS CAREFULLY BEFORE COMPLETING THE AFFIDAVIT. FAILURE TO FOLLOW THESE INSTRUCTIONS MAY CAUSE YOUR BALLOT NOT TO COUNT.
3. You must make a copy of one of the following forms of identification:
The signature of a voter on the absentee ballot envelope must match the signature on file with the supervisor of elections. Any update to a voter’s signature for use in verifying absentee ballots must be made before the beginning of the canvass of absentee ballots by the canvassing board. (see 98.077(4), F.S. Once the supervisor or canvassing board has rejected an absentee ballot because of a signature mismatch, it cannot be cured. However, an absentee ballot without a signature at all can be cured up until 5 p.m. on the day of the election. (see 101.68(4), F.S.)
1. Definition for Department
The Department of State. Fla. Stat. § 97.021(7).
2. Definition for Supervisor
The supervisor of elections. Fla. Stat. § 97.021(36).
3. Definition for Voting System
4. Definition for Absent Elector
Any registered and qualified voter who casts an absentee ballot.
5. Definition for Election Board
The clerk and inspectors appointed to conduct an election. Fla. Stat. § 97.021(13).
6. Definition for Secrecy Envelope
As used in the Electronic Voting Systems Act, secrecy envelope means an opaque device, used for enclosing a marked ballot, which conceals the voter’s choices.
7. Definition for Public Assistance
Assistance provided through the food assistance program under the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; the Medicaid program; the Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children; and the Temporary Cash Assistance Program. Fla. Stat. § 97.021(31).
8. Definition for 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. Fla. Stat. § 106.011(13).
9. Definition for 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).
10. Definition for 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).
11. Definition for Election
Any primary election, special primary election, special election, general election, or presidential preference primary election. Fla. Stat. § 97.021(12).
12. Definition for Candidate
Any person to whom any one or more of the following applies:
Case Name: Greene v. Clemens
Citation: 98 So.3d 791
Case Summary: When a candidate and two electors filed a complaint to contest the results of a state senate primary election, the Circuit Court upheld the result of the election. On appeal, the appellate court held that the Circuit Court's authority on the matter extended only to the review of electors' signatures on voter certificates and elector signatures in registration records to determine whether the canvassing board abused its discretion.
Case Name: Jacobs v. Seminole County Canvassing Board
Citation: 773 So.2d 519
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.
Case Name: Anderson v. Canvassing and Election Board of Gadsden County, Fla.
Citation: 399 So.2d 1021
Case Summary: A candidate for nomination for county supervisor of elections filed an election contest alleging that the county canvassing board should not have rejected absentee ballots that would have impacted the result of the election. The Circuit Court affirmed the rejection. When the candidate appealed, the appellate court held that the canvassing board could compare signatures on absentee ballots with those in the registration records and that the outer envelopes of the absentee ballots were not the same as the affidavits voters have to sign after being challenged at their polling places.
Case Name: Howanitz v. Blair
Citation: 394 So.2d 479
Case Summary: A candidate challenged the results of an election, and the Circuit Court upheld the results on summary judgment. When the candidate appealed, the appellate court held that irregularities that were unclear on the voter's certificate were not waived for failure to challenge before the absentee ballots were removed from the outer mailing envelope.
Regulations & Guidance
Ms. Penelope Townsley, Supervisor of Elections, Miami-Dade County, Absentee Ballots; Canvassing Board - Delivering and tabulating absentee ballot at precinct; use of signature verification technology for absentee ballots
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 176, Effect of ambiguity of vote; what votes are to be counted, generally
Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 177, Treatment of absentee ballots, generally
Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 183, Canvass of absentee ballots
Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 184, Canvass of absentee ballots-Protest
Fla. Jur. S 185, Canvassing special absentee ballots
Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 195, Nature of election contest; jurisdiction and venue
Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 225, Offenses of officials connected with elections
Construction and effect of absentee voters’ laws, 97 A.L.R.2d 257