All Voting is Local Florida and Daniel A. Smith, professor of political science at the University of Florida, today released Casting, Rejecting, and Curing Vote-by-Mail Ballots in Florida’s 2020 General Election. Across Florida’s 67 counties, voters of color, new voters, and younger voters disproportionately cast absentee ballots that were flagged to be “rejected as illegal.” This report also highlights a glaring lack of consistency in both the standards used by election officials to initially reject absentee ballots and the ability of voters casting them to resolve outstanding issues.
Amid COVID-19, Floridians turned out in record numbers in the November 3 general election, with vote by mail accounting for 44 percent of all ballots cast. But traditionally disenfranchised groups were more likely to have their ballot flagged for review and potentially discarded if issues were not resolved – or fixed – within 48 hours of Election Day.
The report offers concrete proposals to ensure that all Floridians who vote by mail have an equal opportunity to cast their vote with confidence. Among the recommendations:
- Greater simplicity with the instructions accompanying vote-by-mail (VBM) ballots; more uniformity in the design of return VBM envelopes; and standard practices to allow voters to cure VBM ballots ﬂagged with a problem;
- Require supervisors of elections to use their website to inform voters on the status of their absentee ballot;
- Implement statewide training for supervisors of elections and canvassing boards to ensure uniformity in determining the validity of VBM return envelopes and cure affidavits;
- The Florida legislature should extend the deadline for voters to resolve issues with their VBM ballots to 5 p.m. on the tenth day after Election Day.