New analysis finds Florida voters subject to potential problems at the polls
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Recently, the Center for American Progress released the second in a series of briefs examining potential roadblocks that voters in key states could face at the polls this year. As we get closer to election day, our focus today is on Florida, a state with the highest rate of disenfranchisement as of 2010. In Florida, more than 7 percent of adults have been disenfranchised—a total of 1.3 million people, including 23 percent of all African Americans.
Key issues identified by CAP experts include:
Poll-worker training. Voter confusion was so widespread in Palm Beach County this year that the Florida Department of State had to intervene and instruct county officials on correct voting protocols for voters without a party affiliation.
Provisional ballots. In 2008, 0.42 percent of ballots in Florida—35,635 votes—were provisional, and 51.4 percent of provisional ballots were rejected. In 2012, 0.5 percent of ballots—52,745 votes—were provisional, and 42.4 percent were rejected.
Mail-in ballots. As of October 3, Florida’s election officials are facing a new challenge in federal court to a law that permits county canvassing boards to reject mail-in ballots on which a voter’s signature does not match their signature on file—denying voters any recourse for curing these so-called signature “defects.”
County boards threw out hundreds of ballots on this basis during the August 30 primary, and many more ballots will likely meet a similar fate in November if this law remains in effect, given that a record number of voters have already requested mail-in ballots.
Voter intimidation. Florida voters should be aware that state law prohibits acts of voter intimidation, such as “threatening or coercing any person for the purpose of interfering with that person’s right to vote” and “using or threatening to use intimidation or coercion to compel a person to vote or not vote.”
“The integrity of elections in the United States demands that every single eligible American is able to cast a ballot and trust that it will be counted,” said Liz Kennedy, Director of Government and Democratic Reform at the Center for American Progress and an author of the series. “Americans have the right to choose their representatives and take part in electoral decision-making. But there are troubling trends: Across the country, thousands of voters have not had their voices heard, either because of targeted voter suppression, laws, or poor election administration decisions, and this goes against the vision of democracy that the United States embodies.”
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