VBM and Voting: SB90 and SB524’s Impact on Voters

[Info from All Voting is Local – Florida, 5/10/22. Available as a printable document (English/Spanish) here)

Highlight for VBM work:  Voters are required to provide a FL driver’s license, FL ID card number, or the last 4 digits of their social security number when requesting a vote-by-mail ballot. Only one number is required, but it is highly recommended that the voters provide two (FL DL/ID and SS) so that it can be quickly matched to their voter file. Current VBM requests are valid through 2022. ALL VBM requests will have to be renewed after the 2022 general election.

———————————-

SB90 and SB524: Impact on Voters

On May 6, 2022 the 11th Circuit Appellate Court granted the state’s motion for a stay in the SB90 trial court decision. Pending appeal, SB90 and SB524 are in full effect.

Requesting a Vote-by-Mail Ballot (VBM)

  1. Whether requesting a mail ballot by phone, in writing, or in person from the county’s supervisor of elections office, a voter must now provide a Florida driver’s license, a Florida identification card number, or the last four digits of their social security number. 
    1. While only one form of identification is required, it’s recommended that voters provide several to ensure that the information on their VBM request can be confirmed by the election office without  delays. 
    2. After the 2022 general elections, every voter who wishes to vote-by-mail must apply for a vote-by-mail ballot each general election. 

 Assistance with returning VBMs

  1. SB 90 made it a misdemeanor for someone to have in their possession ballots other than:
    1. Their own;
    2. Their immediate family members’ (parents, children, grandparents, grandchildren, spouse, siblings, and siblings of spouse);
    3. Two additional ballots.

SB 524 makes it a third-degree felony for anyone to have more than the allowed ballots.

*Important: Rules for vote-by-mail ballot designees are different in Miami-Dade due to a local ordinance with additional requirements and limitations. Contact the Miami-Dade Supervisor of Elections Office at (305-499-8444) if you have questions.

Assistance at the polls

    1. Voters have the right to request assistance from two election officials or anyone they would like, except their employer, an agent of the employer or a union representative.  
  • SB90 prohibited attempts to influence voters, by anyone other than elections staff, which may have included nonpartisan activities such as offering a voter waiting in line water, food, or anything else, inside the 150 feet no electioneering zone. 
  • While this was ruled unconstitutional by a recent court decision,“line-warming” activities are currently not permitted, pending the outcome of an appeal of the trial court decision. 

List Maintenance

  1. SB 524 mandates yearly list maintenance. This is the process in which Supervisors of Elections remove voters from the rolls due to changes in addresses, death, ineligibility to vote, or other factors. 
  2. To make sure voters are not incorrectly removed, voters must keep their registration up to date by:
    1. Updating their voter registration, as needed, to reflect changes in address, party affiliation, or to update a signature. Voters can use RegistertovoteFlorida.gov to register or update their information. 
    2. Checking and responding to any mail or notifications from the Supervisor of Elections to ensure they are registered as an active voter. 
      1. Supervisors of Elections may send voters address confirmation notices if they receive information that a voter has moved outside of their county. If the voter does not respond to that mailing within 30 days, they are moved to the inactive list. Being moved to inactive status begins the process of removing a voter from the rolls. 
      2.  If a voter discovers that they have been moved to inactive status, they can move back to active voter status by showing proof of residence when updating their voter information, requesting a vote-by-mail ballot, or voting in person.  
      3.  Voters who do not have a residential address or who primarily use a P.O. Box instead of a residential address should check their voter status on a regular basis to confirm that they are designated as an active voter rather than inactive. 

Additionally, voters could find that Drop Boxes are now referred to as Secure Ballot Intake Stations because of the passage of SB524. The Drop Box provisions of SB524 are currently under effect, pending appeal.