Miami-Dade Legislative Item
File Number: 112169
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File Number: 112169 File Type: Ordinance Status: In Committee
Version: 0 Reference: 11-93 Control: Board of County Commissioners
File Name: ADDING PENALTIES FOR VIOLATING LIMITS ON ABSENTEE BALLOTS Introduced: 10/19/2011
Requester: NONE Cost: Final Action: 12/6/2011
Agenda Date: 12/6/2011 Agenda Item Number: 7G
Notes: Title: ORDINANCE REGARDING ABSENTEE BALLOTS; AMENDING SECTION 12-14 OF THE CODE OF MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA, ADDING PENALTIES FOR VIOLATING LIMITS ON PICKING UP AND/OR RETURNING ABSENTEE BALLOTS; PROVIDING SEVERABILITY, INCLUSION IN THE CODE, AND AN EFFECTIVE DATE (SEE ORIGINAL ITEM UNDER FILE NO. 112056)
Indexes: ABSENTEE BALLOTS
  ORDINANCE AMENDING
Sponsors: Rebeca Sosa, Prime Sponsor
  Lynda Bell, Co-Sponsor
  Esteban L. Bovo, Jr., Co-Sponsor
  Jose "Pepe" Diaz, Co-Sponsor
  Audrey M. Edmonson, Co-Sponsor
  Sally A. Heyman, Co-Sponsor
  Barbara J. Jordan, Co-Sponsor
  Jean Monestime, Co-Sponsor
  Dennis C. Moss, Co-Sponsor
  Xavier L. Suarez, Co-Sponsor
Sunset Provision: No Effective Date: Expiration Date:
Registered Lobbyist: None Listed


Legislative History

Acting Body Date Agenda Item Action Sent To Due Date Returned Pass/Fail

Board of County Commissioners 12/6/2011 7G Adopted P
REPORT: First Assistant County Attorney Abigail Price-Williams read the foregoing proposed ordinance into the record. Hearing no questions or comments, members of the Board proceeded to vote on this ordinance as presented.

Infrastructure and Land Use Committee 11/9/2011 1E2 Forwarded to BCC with a favorable recommendation P
REPORT: Assistant County Attorney Geri Bonzon-Keenan read the title of the foregoing proposed ordinance into the record. Chairwoman Edmonson opened the public hearing for persons wishing to speak on this ordinance, and the following persons appeared: 1. Ms. Judith Thompson, 1150 NW 11 St. Rd, appeared before the Committee in support of this ordinance. She noted she was also appearing on behalf of Nancy Lee and Bill Collins. Ms. Thompson noted she was a victim of fraud in last year’s absentee ballot process, when someone stole her vote, by voting in her name. Ms. Thompson explained that after requesting an absentee ballot and not receiving one, she attempted to vote at the polling place on Election Day, but was denied the chance to vote, because the records showed that she had already voted via absentee ballot. She also noted she was not given a provisional ballot after she tried to explain her circumstances. She said she subsequently went to the Elections headquarters to review the absentee ballot envelope in her name, and discovered that the signature on it was not hers. She also noted she was told by the staff that she would be charged a fee if she took longer than 15 minutes to review it. Ms. Thompson noted her anger towards a system that did not protect her voting rights, and did not bring charges against anyone for committing this crime against her. She said she supported this ordinance, but would like to see the Elections Department impose stricter penalties for absentee ballot fraud; train its staff better to match signatures with those on file; offer a provisional ballot in situations like hers; simplify the process for reviewing cases, without imposing a fee after 15 minutes; and post Election rules/regulations and citizens’ voting rights at Assisted Living Facilities (ALFs) and retirement homes. Ms. Thompson expressed appreciation to the Commissioners who supported this ordinance. 2. Shawn Selleck, 1058 NW 27th Street, appeared before the Committee in support of this ordinance. He noted while campaigning for Miami City Commissioner last year, he discovered that many citizens were uneducated on the electoral process, and many citizens said they would vote for whoever helped them fill out an absentee ballot and mailed it for them. He noted he heard many stories of fraud in the County’s absentee ballot process, and said this would continue unless laws and penalties were established to stop it. He said he was hopeful the Commission would continue discussions on how to improve this process. Chairwoman Edmonson closed the public hearing after seeing no other persons wishing to speak. Commissioner Sosa noted she sponsored this ordinance after reading about Ms. Thompson’s experience on the Internet blog entitled “Eye on Miami,” and seeing comments that said penalties were needed in this process. She noted this ordinance would establish a $1,000 fine and/or impose a penalty of up to 60 days of incarceration in the County jail for violating the rules for picking up and/or returning absentee ballots in Miami-Dade County. She expressed appreciation to each Commissioner who co-sponsored this ordinance. Commissioner Sosa also noted that a resolution was approved by the Commission last week, urging the State to make this violation a third degree felony. Commissioner Monestime asked that he be added as a co-sponsor of this ordinance. It was moved by Commissioner Sosa that the foregoing proposed ordinance be forwarded to the County Commission with a favorable recommendation. This motion was seconded by Commissioner Diaz. Commissioner Diaz noted similar issues were raised in a petition gathering process years ago, and there was no excuse for what occurred with Ms. Thompson or then. He concurred that much more was needed to improve this process, and the State should review it thoroughly to prevent fraud. Hearing no further comments or questions, the Committee voted on the foregoing proposed ordinance as presented.

County Attorney 10/19/2011 Referred Infrastructure and Land Use Committee 11/9/2011

County Attorney 10/19/2011 Assigned Oren Rosenthal

Board of County Commissioners 10/18/2011 4D AMENDED Adopted on first reading as amended 11/9/2011 P
REPORT: First Assistant County Attorney Abigail Price-Williams read the foregoing proposed ordinance into the record. Assistant County Attorney Oren Rosenthal requested that an amendment be made to insert the following language on handwritten page 4, line 13, after the word 'retrieve': "...pick up and/or return, whether by hand, by mail, or by any method..." There being no further discussion, the Board adopted the foregoing proposed ordinance on first reading as amended on handwritten page 4, line 13, to insert the following language after the word 'retrieve': "...pick up and/or return, whether by hand, by mail, or by any method..." and was scheduled for public hearing before the Infrastructure and Land Use Committee on November 9, 2011 at 2:00 p.m. SPECIAL NOTE: The October 18, 2011, Board of County Commissioners' Chairman Joe A. Martinez' Memorandum entitled, "Changes Sheet" noted a scrivener's error on handwritten page 3, the three references to Section 12-4 (once in the title and twice in the body of the ordinance) should be replaced with Section 12-14.

Legislative Text


TITLE
ORDINANCE REGARDING ABSENTEE BALLOTS; AMENDING SECTION 12-14 OF THE CODE OF MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA, ADDING PENALTIES FOR VIOLATING LIMITS ON PICKING UP AND/OR RETURNING ABSENTEE BALLOTS; PROVIDING SEVERABILITY, INCLUSION IN THE CODE, AND AN EFFECTIVE DATE

BODY


BE IT ORDAINED BY THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA:
Section1. That Section 12-14 of the Code of Miami-Dade County, Florida, is amended to read as follows:1
CHAPTER 12. ELECTIONS


* * *

Sec. 12-14. Absentee ballots

(a) An absentee ballot shall be provided to and returned by an elector, except an overseas elector, in person or by mail except as provided herein. For purposes of this section, "mail" means delivery by the United States Postal Service. Absentee ballots shall be provided to and returned by overseas electors in accordance with federal law and Florida Statutes. The Supervisor of Elections may provide to and receive absentee ballots from employees of the Miami-Dade Corrections and Rehabilitation Department who are designated by the Director to facilitate the vote for inmates of correctional facilities who are eligible to vote. The Supervisor of Elections may provide an absentee ballot to a designee of an elector if the elector is unable to retrieve and/or return the ballot in person or by mail as follows:

(b) The designee must provide to the Supervisor of Elections identification from the elector, picture identification of the designee, and a written statement signed by the elector authorizing the designee by name to pick up and/or return the absentee ballot. If the elector is a member of the designee's immediate family, the signed statement must include the circumstances requiring the designee to pick up and/or return the absentee ballot. If the elector is not a member of the designee's immediate family, the designee must also provide to the Supervisor of Elections a statement signed by a physician on that physician's stationery that, due to a medical emergency involving the elector or elector's dependent, the named elector is unable to vote at the polls and is unable to pick up and/or return an absentee ballot in person. A designee may retrieve>>, pick up and/or return (whether by hand, by mail or by any other method)<<2 no more than two (2) absentee ballots other than his or her own per election, only one (1) of which may be for an elector not of the designee's immediate family. For purposes of this section, "immediate family" means the elector's spouse or the parent, child, grandparent, or sibling of the elector. A designee may only pick up and/or return an absentee ballot on the day before or day of the election for an immediate family member and on the day of the election for a non-family member. The designee must complete an affidavit that states that the designee is authorized by the elector to retrieve and/or return the elector's ballot and shall indicate his or her relationship to the elector, if any. >>Any person picking up and/or returning absentee ballots in violation of the provisions of this subsection shall be punished by a fine not to exceed one thousand dollars ($1000.00) or by imprisonment in the county jail for a period not to exceed sixty (60) days, or by both such fine and imprisonment, in the discretion of the court having jurisdiction over the cause.<<

(c) The Supervisor of Elections shall prescribe the form of the affidavit to be completed and signed by a designee of an elector. If the Supervisor of Elections is satisfied that the designee is authorized to retrieve and/or return the absentee ballot, the ballot shall be provided to or accepted from the designee.


Section 2. If any section, subsection, sentence, clause or provision of this ordinance is held invalid, the remainder of this ordinance shall not be affected by such invalidity.
Section 3. It is the intention of the Board of County Commissioners, and it is hereby ordained that the provisions of this ordinance, including any sunset provision, shall become and be made a part of the Code of Miami-Dade County, Florida. The sections of this ordinance may be renumbered or relettered to accomplish such intention, and the word "ordinance" may be changed to "section," "article," or other appropriate word.
Section 4. This ordinance shall become effective ten (10) days after the date of enactment unless vetoed by the Mayor, and if vetoed, shall become effective only upon an override by this Board.


1 Words stricken through and/or [[double bracketed]] shall be deleted. Words underscored and/or >>double arrowed<< constitute the amendment proposed. The remaining provisions are now in effect and remain unchanged.
2 BCC amendments made at first reading are indicated as follows: words double stricken through and/or [[double bracketed]] shall be deleted, words double underlined and/or >>double arrowed<< constitute the amendment proposed.



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