Miami-Dade Legislative Item
File Number: 121726
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File Number: 121726 File Type: Resolution Status: Adopted
Version: 0 Reference: R-730-12 Control: Board of County Commissioners
File Name: REINSTATE FOR CAUSE REQUIREMENTS FOR ABSENTEE BALLOTS Introduced: 8/29/2012
Requester: NONE Cost: Final Action: 9/6/2012
Agenda Date: 9/4/2012 Agenda Item Number: 11A22
Notes: Title: RESOLUTION URGING THE FLORIDA LEGISLATURE TO REINSTATE ''FOR CAUSE'' REQUIREMENTS FOR THE USE OF ABSENTEE BALLOTS TO RESTORE INTEGRITY TO THE ABSENTEE BALLOT PROCESS
Indexes: ABSENTEE BALLOT
  LEGISLATURE
Sponsors: Rebeca Sosa, Prime Sponsor
  Jose "Pepe" Diaz, Co-Sponsor
  Barbara J. Jordan, Co-Sponsor
  Joe A. Martinez, 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 9/6/2012 11A22 Adopted P

Office of the Chairperson 9/4/2012 Additions 9/4/2012

County Attorney 8/29/2012 Assigned Jess M. McCarty

Legislative Text


TITLE
RESOLUTION URGING THE FLORIDA LEGISLATURE TO REINSTATE “FOR CAUSE” REQUIREMENTS FOR THE USE OF ABSENTEE BALLOTS TO RESTORE INTEGRITY TO THE ABSENTEE BALLOT PROCESS

BODY
WHEREAS, prior to 1997, Florida substantially restricted the use of absentee ballots to certain “for cause” reasons set forth in statute; and
WHEREAS, to vote by absentee ballot prior to 1997, a voter had to show that he or she:
* Was unable without another's assistance to attend the polls on election day;
* Was an inspector, a poll worker, a deputy voting machine custodian, a deputy sheriff, a supervisor of elections, or a deputy supervisor who is assigned to a different precinct than that in which he or she is registered to vote;
* On account of the tenets of his or her religion, cannot attend the polls on the day of the general, special or primary election;
* Will not be in the precinct of his or her residence during the hours the polls are open for voting on the day of the election;
* Had changed his or her residency to another county in this state within the time period during which the registration books had closed for the election for which the ballot was requested; or
* Had changed his or her residency to another state and was ineligible under the laws of that state to vote in the general election; however, this pertained only to presidential ballots; and
WHEREAS, effective January 1, 1997, the Florida Legislature eliminated the “for cause” absentee ballot requirements and allowed any voter to vote by absentee ballot “who is unable to attend the polls on election day” pursuant to Chapter 96-57, Laws of Florida; and
WHEREAS, following voter fraud and abuses in the absentee balloting process during the 1997 election cycle in Miami, the Legislature during the 1998 session enacted the Voter Fraud Act, Chapter 98-129, Laws of Florida, as a comprehensive measure to combat absentee ballot fraud; and
WHEREAS, the 1998 Voter Fraud Act essentially readopted into statute the “for cause” reasons for voting absentee with few exceptions, one of which was to have the voter swear that he or she may not be in the precinct during voting hours, rather than having the voter swear that he or she will not be in the precinct during voting hours on election day; and
WHEREAS, a number of the 1998 Voter Fraud Act provisions were not approved for implementation by the U.S. Department of Justice, so they did not go into effect; and
WHEREAS, during the 2001 session, the Florida Legislature again revisited absentee ballot requirements in the Florida Election Reform Act of 2001, Chapter 2001-40, Laws of Florida; and
WHEREAS, the Florida Election Reform Act of 2001 eliminated the “for cause” absentee ballot requirements and provided that all registered voters in Florida had the option of casting an absentee ballot without restriction; and
WHEREAS, the Florida Election Reform Act of 2001 also eliminated the requirements that persons requesting an absentee ballot had to provide social security numbers or voter identification numbers, such that the absentee ballot voter’s certificate required only the signature of the voter and the signature and address of a witness; and
WHEREAS, during the 2004 session, the Legislature passed Chapter 2004-232, Laws of Florida, which eliminated the requirement that the signature of a voter casting an absentee ballot be witnessed by an individual over 18 years of age, and that the witness’ signature and address appear on the Voter’s Certificate on the back of the mailing envelope; and
WHEREAS, current investigations into absentee ballot fraud in Miami-Dade County are ongoing; and
WHEREAS, absentee ballots originally were intended for voters who were unable to go to the polls, either because of physical difficulty or travel on the day of an election; and
WHEREAS, absentee ballots currently are available to every voter without any need to show cause why they cannot go to the polls on election day; and
WHEREAS, returning the requirements for the use of absentee ballots to their original intended purpose could serve to curtail opportunities for absentee ballot fraud, while still preserving the ability for voters to use absentee ballots who truly need to,
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA, that this Board:
Section 1. Urges the Florida Legislature to reinstate “for cause” requirements for the use of absentee ballots in order to restore integrity to the absentee ballot process.
Section 2. Directs the Clerk of this Board to send a certified copy of this resolution to the Governor, Senate President, House Speaker, the Chair and Members of the Miami-Dade State Legislative Delegation, the Florida Secretary of State and the Supervisors of Elections in Florida’s 67 counties.
Section 3. Directs the County's state lobbyists to advocate for the passage of the legislation and action set forth in section 1 above, and authorizes and directs the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs to include this item in the 2013 State Legislative Package when it is presented to the Board.



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