§ 101.657 Early voting.
Overview of Statute
This statute governs the early voting procedure in Florida. Supervisors must allow early voting in the main or branch office of the supervisor. Supervisors must designate early voting sites no later than 30 days before the election. Early voting begins on the 10th day before an election and ends on the 3rd day before elections that contain either state or federal races. Voters who vote early must fill out an Early Voting Certificate.
(a) As a convenience to the voter, the supervisor of elections shall allow an elector to vote early in the main or branch office of the supervisor. The supervisor shall mark, code, indicate on, or otherwise track the voter’s precinct for each early voted ballot. In order for a branch office to be used for early voting, it shall be a permanent facility of the supervisor and shall have been designated and used as such for at least 1 year prior to the election. The supervisor may also designate any city hall, permanent public library facility, fairground, civic center, courthouse, county commission building, stadium, convention center, government-owned senior center, or government-owned community center as early voting sites; however, if so designated, the sites must be geographically located so as to provide all voters in the county an equal opportunity to cast a ballot, insofar as is practicable. In addition, a supervisor may designate one early voting site per election in an area of the county that does not have any of the eligible early voting locations. Such additional early voting site must be geographically located so as to provide all voters in that area with an equal opportunity to cast a ballot, insofar as is practicable. Each county shall, at a minimum, operate the same total number of early voting sites for a general election which the county operated for the 2012 general election. The results or tabulation of votes cast during early voting may not be made before the close of the polls on election day. Results shall be reported by precinct.
(b) The supervisor shall designate each early voting site by no later than the 30th day prior to an election and shall designate an early voting area, as defined in s. 97.021, at each early voting site. The supervisor shall provide to the division no later than the 30th day before an election the address of each early voting site and the hours that early voting will occur at each site.
(c) All early voting sites in a county shall allow any person in line at the closing of an early voting site to vote.
(d) Early voting shall begin on the 10th day before an election that contains state or federal races and end on the 3rd day before the election, and shall be provided for no less than 8 hours and no more than 12 hours per day at each site during the applicable period. In addition, early voting may be offered at the discretion of the supervisor of elections on the 15th, 14th, 13th, 12th, 11th, or 2nd day before an election that contains state or federal races for at least 8 hours per day, but not more than 12 hours per day. The supervisor of elections may provide early voting for elections that are not held in conjunction with a state or federal election. However, the supervisor has the discretion to determine the hours of operation of early voting sites in those elections.
(e) Notwithstanding the requirements of s. 100.3605, municipalities may provide early voting in municipal elections that are not held in conjunction with county or state elections. If a municipality provides early voting, it may designate as many sites as necessary and shall conduct its activities in accordance with the provisions of paragraphs (a)-(c). The supervisor is not required to conduct early voting if it is provided pursuant to this subsection.
(f) Notwithstanding the requirements of s. 189.04, special districts may provide early voting in any district election not held in conjunction with county or state elections. If a special district provides early voting, it may designate as many sites as necessary and shall conduct its activities in accordance with the provisions of paragraphs (a)-(c). The supervisor is not required to conduct early voting if it is provided pursuant to this subsection.
(2) During any early voting period, each supervisor of elections shall make available the total number of voters casting a ballot at each early voting location during the previous day. Each supervisor shall prepare an electronic data file listing the individual voters who cast a ballot during the early voting period. This information shall be provided in electronic format as provided by rule adopted by the division. The information shall be updated and made available no later than noon of each day and shall be contemporaneously provided to the division.
(3) The ballot of each elector voting early shall be counted even if the elector dies on or before election day.
(a) The elector must provide identification and must complete an Early Voting Voter Certificate in substantially the following form:
EARLY VOTING VOTER CERTIFICATE
I, , am a qualified elector in this election and registered voter of County, Florida. I do solemnly swear or affirm that I am the person so listed on the voter registration rolls of County and that I reside at the listed address. I understand that if I commit or attempt to commit fraud in connection with voting, vote a fraudulent ballot, or vote more than once in an election I could be convicted of a felony of the third degree and both fined up to $5,000 and imprisoned for up to 5 years. I understand that my failure to sign this certificate invalidates my ballot.
(b) Any elector may challenge an elector seeking to vote early under the provisions of s. 101.111. Any challenged voter must vote a provisional ballot. The canvassing board shall review the ballot and decide the validity of the ballot by majority vote.
(c) The canvass of returns for ballots cast under this subsection shall be substantially the same as votes cast by electors in precincts, as provided in s. 101.5614.
s. 17, ch. 98-129; s. 2, ch. 2000-249; s. 55, ch. 2001-40; s. 21, ch. 2003-415; s. 7, ch. 2004-232; s. 13, ch. 2004-252; s. 45, ch. 2005-277; s. 39, ch. 2005-278; s. 39, ch. 2011-40; s. 13, ch. 2013-57; s. 57, ch. 2014-22.
Supervisors have discretion to determine how many days of early voting to offer. For articles on how that creates inconsistency among counties, see http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/politics/os-early-voting-central-florida-20160818-story.html and http://www.tampabay.com/opinion/columns/column-florida-is-running-out-of-time-to-give-all-voters-equal-early-voting/2289590.
1. Definition for Supervisor
The supervisor of elections. Fla. Stat. § 97.021(36).
2. Definition for 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).
3. Definition for 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).
4. Definition for 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).
5. Definition for Early Voting Site
Those locations specified in s. 101.657 and the building in which early voting occurs. Fla. Stat. § 97.021(11).
6. Definition for Provisional Ballot
A conditional ballot, the validity of which is determined by the canvassing board.
7. 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).
8. Definition for 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).
9. 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).
10. Definition for Division
The Division of Elections of the Department of State. Fla. Stat. § 97.021(8).
11. Definition for Election
Any primary election, special primary election, special election, general election, or presidential preference primary election. Fla. Stat. § 97.021(12).
Case Name: Brown v. Detzner
Citation: 895 F.Supp.2d 1236
Federal District Court: Middle District of Florida
Case Summary: After African American leaders and voters filed suit against the Florida legislature's attempt to amend the state's early voting statute, the District Court held that the plaintiffs failed to show that the amendment was made with intent to discriminate in violation of the VRA, that the amendment would not deny equal access to the polls to African American voters, and that the plaintiffs failed to show a substantial likelihood of success on their constitutional claims.
Case Name: Florida v. United States
Citation: 885 F.Supp.2d 299
Federal District Court: United States District Court, District of Columbia
Case Summary: Under section five of the VRA, Florida had to have any changes it made to its electoral process precleared. The District Court held that Florida had not met its burden of proving that retrogression would not occur if the covered counties reduced both early voting days and early voting hours.
Case Name: Jacksonville Coalition For Voter Protection v. Hood
Citation: 351 F.Supp.2d 1326
Federal District Court: Southern District of Florida
Case Summary: Various associations and individuals filed suit against state and county officials, challenging the fact that there were only five early polling places in the county. The District Court held that the plaintiffs were unlikely to win on the merits of their claim that the provision of only five early polling places violated the VRA.
Case Name: N.A.A.C.P., Inc. ex rel. Volusia County Branch v. Lowe
Citation: 340 F.Supp.2d 1329
Federal District Court: Middle District of Florida
Case Summary: The NAACP filed suit against the county supervisor of elections, asking for an injunction requiring the county to open an additional early voting location in a community with a large African American population. Ultimately, the action was rendered moot when the county designated an additional early voting site in the requested location.
Regulations & Guidance
Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 11, Voting Rights Act
Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 147, Generally
Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 156, Provisional ballots-Special circumstances
Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 168, Generally
Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 169, Municipal Elections
Validity, Construction, and Application of Early Voting Statutes, 29 A.L.R.6th 343
0050 Surveys 8; Marking and Counting of Ballots