§ 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 may solicit voters within 100 feet of the polling place.
(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.
(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:
- Official poll watchers;
- Election clerks;
- The supervisor of elections or his or her deputy;
- Persons there to vote, persons in the care of a voter, or persons caring for such voter;
- Law enforcement officers or emergency service personnel there with permission of the clerk or a majority of the inspectors; or
- 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) 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.(e) The owner, operator, or lessee of the property on which a polling place or an early voting site is located, or an agent or employee thereof, may not prohibit the solicitation of voters outside of the no-solicitation zone during polling hours.
(5) No photography is permitted in the polling room or early voting area, except an elector may photograph his or her own ballot.
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 Polling Room
The actual room in which ballots are cast on election day and during early voting. Fla. Stat. § 97.021(28).
4. Definition for 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).
5. Definition for Polling Place
The building which contains the polling room where ballots are cast. Fla. Stat. § 97.021(27).
6. Definition for Election Board
The clerk and inspectors appointed to conduct an election. Fla. Stat. § 97.021(13).
7. 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).
8. 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).
9. Definition for 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).
10. 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).
11. 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).
12. 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).
13. Definition for Election
Any primary election, special primary election, special election, general election, or presidential preference primary election. Fla. Stat. § 97.021(12).
14. Definition for Candidate
Any person to whom any one or more of the following applies:
15. Definition for 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. Fla. Stat. § 101.732(3).
Case Name: Cobb v. Thurman
Citation: 957 So.2d 638
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.
Case Name: Citizens for Police Accountability Political Committee v. Browning
Citation: 572 F.3d 1213
Federal Circuit Court: 11th Circuit Court
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
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
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