The 2022 election season in Florida begins with new rules on the voting process. The law now places restrictions on updating existing voter registrations, limits who can drop off and collect ballots, limits the location of drop boxes – along with other conditions designed to make our state and local elections more secure.
The first bill passed along party lines, but the new law was immediately challenged in court by the NAACP, the Florida League of Women Voters, and other plaintiffs.
In May, an appeals court issued a stay of the lower court’s ruling, which keeps the law in place for this election cycle. The matter will be argued in September before a panel at the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The second bill created an Office of Election Crimes and Security within the Florida Department of State (DOS). The department will investigate claims of voter fraud and enforce increased penalties for violations of state election laws. The new law also includes a ban on ballot harvesting – now a felony – and requires officials to update and purge voter rolls yearly.
WHEN IS THE ELECTION?
Florida’s State Primary Election is Tuesday, August 23, 2022. The registration deadline to vote in the primary was Monday, July 25. The deadline to request a vote-by-mail ballot is Saturday, August 13.
The State General Election is Tuesday, November 8, 2022. The registration deadline to vote in the general election is Tuesday, October 11. The deadline to request a vote-by-mail ballot is Saturday, October 29.
Early voting is available at designated polling places before Election Day. County Supervisors of Elections have some say over the length of early voting, but it may not begin until ten days before the election, according to Florida law.
For many Floridians, not much has changed in the voting process. But, for some, quite a lot has changed.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO VOTE IN FLORIDA?
Any resident of Florida, who is a citizen of the United States, 18 and older, and who has not been adjudicated mentally incapacitated may vote. In addition, convicted felons must have their civil rights restored to vote.
DOES FLORIDA REQUIRE ID TO VOTE?
Yes. A current and valid ID with a photo and signature is required. One of the following is acceptable:
Florida driver’s license
Florida identification card issued by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles
United States passport
Debit or credit card (with photo)
Retirement center identification
Neighborhood association identification
Public assistance identification
Veteran health identification card issued by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs
License to carry a concealed weapon or firearm issued pursuant to s. 790.06
Employee identification card issued by any branch, department, agency, or entity of the Federal Government, the state, a county, or municipality.
What if you don’t have a valid ID? In that case, you can cast a provisional ballot, which will be counted if you are eligible to vote, you voted in the correct precinct, and your signature matches the one on file with the Supervisor of Elections.
HOW CAN I REGISTER ONLINE TO VOTE IN FLORIDA?
HOW CAN I CHECK MY VOTER REGISTRATION?
You can check to make sure that you’re still registered and verify that the information is correct here. Counties may now purge voter rolls yearly, so check your registration well in advance before the voting deadlines.
WHAT TIME ARE THE POLLS OPEN?
The polls are open on Election Day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. in whatever time zone you live. Any voters in line at 7 p.m. will still be permitted to cast a ballot, no matter how long it takes.
HOW DO I FIND MY POLLING PLACE?
Your polling place is on your voter registration card, or you can look it up on your county’s Supervisor of Elections website. Here’s how to find yours.
CAN I VOTE BY MAIL IN FLORIDA?
Yes. You can vote by mail without providing a reason to do so. There are no eligibility requirements. All vote-by-mail (or absentee) ballots must be completed and received by election officials by 7 p.m. on Election Day. Follow the instructions on the envelope – missing signatures may delay your ballot, or it might get thrown out.
Previously, you could request mail-in ballots through the next two general elections (the next four years), but now you must ask for them every time. When you request a mail-in ballot, you must provide your driver’s license number, a state-issued ID, or the last four digits of your Social Security number. You can no longer provide just your birthday or signature.
CAN I VOTE BY “DROP BOX” IN FLORIDA?
Yes. Drop boxes are now called Secure Ballot Intake Stations. Previously, drop boxes were placed around the state at various locations. Now, the boxes may only be at the Supervisor of Election’s office or outside early voting sites, open only during early voting hours, and monitored at all times, in person, by an election worker.
Drop boxes will now be fewer in number, fewer locations, and only open for a limited time during the day – they will close the third day before the election day.
CAN SOMEONE DROP OFF MY BALLOT FOR ME IN FLORIDA?
Yes. The new law restricts the number of signed, sealed ballots one person may possess to two besides their own, except immediate family members, and makes violation of this rule a felony.
CAN I ORGANIZE A VOTER REGISTRATION?
Yes. But you must first register with the state, and you’ll be required to document each person you help to sign up carefully. Harsh penalties may occur for failing to comply with all regulations.
Community organizations must now warn applicants that the organization “might not” get their registration in on time. Organizations that fail to submit voter applications within 14 days may incur fines. The new law raises the annual cap on penalties from $1,000 to $50,000.
CAN I VOTE IN FLORIDA AS A CONVICTED FELON?
You may be able to vote if your civil voting rights have been restored and you have paid any restitution, fines, or fees due. But check your status before attempting to vote – ignorance may not prevent you from prosecution if you try to vote while you are not yet eligible.
WHAT IS VOTER SOLICITATION?
Florida already had laws restricting one from seeking signatures, handing out materials, or asking for votes within 100 feet of a polling center. The new law expands that rule to 150 feet. In addition, the 150 feet rule now applies to Secure Ballot Intake Stations (drop boxes). The new law also prohibits “engaging in any activity with the intent to influence or effect of influencing a voter.”