§ 101.65 Instructions to absent electors
The supervisor shall enclose with each vote-by-mail ballot separate printed instructions in substantially the following form; however, where the instructions appear in capitalized text, the text of the printed instructions must be in bold font:
READ THESE INSTRUCTIONS CAREFULLY BEFORE MARKING BALLOT.
- VERY IMPORTANT. In order to ensure that your vote-by-mail ballot will be counted, it should be completed and returned as soon as possible so that it can reach the supervisor of elections of the county in which your precinct is located no later than 7 p.m. on the day of the election. However, if you are an overseas voter casting a ballot in a presidential preference primary or general election, your vote-by-mail ballot must be postmarked or dated no later than the date of the election and received by the supervisor of elections of the county in which you are registered to vote no later than 10 days after the date of the election. Note that the later you return your ballot, the less time you will have to cure any signature deficiencies, which is authorized until 5 p.m. on the 2nd day after the election.
- Mark your ballot in secret as instructed on the ballot. You must mark your own ballot unless you are unable to do so because of blindness, disability, or inability to read or write.
- Mark only the number of candidates or issue choices for a race as indicated on the ballot. If you are allowed to “Vote for One” candidate and you vote for more than one candidate, your vote in that race will not be counted.
- Place your marked ballot in the enclosed secrecy envelope.
- Insert the secrecy envelope into the enclosed mailing envelope which is addressed to the supervisor.
- Seal the mailing envelope and completely fill out the Voter’s Certificate on the back of the mailing envelope.
- VERY IMPORTANT. In order for your vote-by-mail ballot to be counted, you must sign your name on the line above (Voter’s Signature). A vote-by-mail ballot will be considered illegal and not be counted if the signature on the voter’s certificate does not match the signature on record. The signature on file at the time the supervisor of elections in the county in which your precinct is located receives your vote-by-mail ballot is the signature that will be used to verify your signature on the voter’s certificate. If you need to update your signature for this election, send your signature update on a voter registration application to your supervisor of elections so that it is received before your vote-by-mail ballot is received.
- VERY IMPORTANT. If you are an overseas voter, you must include the date you signed the Voter’s Certificate on the line above (Date) or your ballot may not be counted.
- Mail, deliver, or have delivered the completed mailing envelope. Be sure there is sufficient postage if mailed. THE COMPLETED MAILING ENVELOPE CAN BE DELIVERED TO THE OFFICE OF THE SUPERVISOR OF ELECTIONS OF THE COUNTY IN WHICH YOUR PRECINCT IS LOCATED OR DROPPED OFF AT AN AUTHORIZED SECURE DROP BOX, AVAILABLE AT EACH EARLY VOTING LOCATION.
- FELONY NOTICE. It is a felony under Florida law to accept any gift, payment, or gratuity in exchange for your vote for a candidate. It is also a felony under Florida law to vote in an election using a false identity or false address, or under any other circumstances making your ballot false or fraudulent.
The Florida Democratic Party recently sued to stop the practice of election officials tossing vote by mail ballots if the signature on the ballot envelope does not match the one on file. Plaintiffs are asking for a preliminary injunction enjoining the state from rejecting these vote-by-mail ballots. A copy of their motion is available here: http://www.politico.com/states/f/?id=00000157-8c74-d51f-adf7-ae7592a00000. Florida is an outlier with respect to this law. Other states, including Colorado, Oregon, and Washington, notify voters and allow them to rectify the discrepancy. A hearing is set for Oct. 14, 2016.
This hearing was cancelled after Fla. Secretary of State Detzner notified the court that no witnesses or evidence would be present at Monday’s hearing. The judge accused Detzner of delaying the hearing so that he could run out the clock so there wouldn’t be enough time to address problems raised in the lawsuit before the November election. The judge decided to issue a ruling in the case (see below) without a hearing. For further reading, see http://electionlawblog.org/?p=87546.
On Oct. 16, 2016, the district court in the N.D. of Fla. granted the preliminary injunction, applying strict scrutiny and finding Florida’s statutory scheme, which provides no opportunity to cure mismatched-signature ballots, unconstitutional under the equal protection clause. The case is Fla. Democratic Party v. Detzner. For further reading, see http://electionlawblog.org/?p=87570.
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 Overseas Voter
(a) An absent uniformed services voter who, by reason of active duty or service, is absent from the United States on the date of the election involved;
(b) A person who resides outside the United States and is qualified to vote in the last place in which the person was domiciled before leaving the United States; or
(c) A person who resides outside the United States and, but for such residence, would be qualified to vote in the last place in which the person was domiciled before leaving the United States. Fla. Stat. § 97.021(24).
4. 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).
5. 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. Fla. Stat. § 101.5603(6).
6. 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).
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 Election
Any primary election, special primary election, special election, general election, or presidential preference primary election. Fla. Stat. § 97.021(12).
9. Definition for Candidate
Any person to whom any one or more of the following applies:
Case Name: Hand v. Scott
Citation: 315 F. Supp. 3d 1244
Federal District Court: Northern District of Florida
Case PDF: Hand v. Scott
Case Summary: Holding re-enfranchisement of lawfully disenfranchised felons may not be arbitrary or violative of First Amendment
Fla. Democratic Party Challenges Tossing of Vote-by-Mail Ballots if Signatures Don't Match (Complaint) Complaint
Fla. Democratic Party Challenges Tossing of Vote-by-Mail Ballots if Signatures Don't Match (Emergency Motion for Preliminary Injunction) Emergency Motion for Preliminary Injunction
MEMORANDUM OF LAW IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFFS’ EMERGENCY MOTION FOR PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION (10/2016) Florida Democratic Party v. Detzner