Election Reform in Florida
Amendment 4 News Update (3/28/2020):
On October 18, 2019, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Hinkle issued a temporary ruling that 17 individuals who had felony convictions could register to vote because they had shown the court that they had an inability to pay the financial obligations of their sentence. On February 19, 2020 a three judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta affirmed this federal trial court’s temporary order, meaning that the 17 individual plaintiffs can register to vote and vote. The state asked the full Court of Appeals to review the decision of this three judge panel, but no ruling has been made yet. A final hearing is set to determine whether it is legal to prevent people with felony convictions from registering to vote for failure to pay their sentence’s financial obligations if the people are unable to pay. At the final hearing the court will make a ruling that will impact the entire state, not just the 17 individual plaintiffs. Due to the Coronavirus emergency, the US District Court trial has been delayed until the third week in April, and witness testimony will likely be presented virtually (e.g., on Zoom).
The League of Women Voters of Florida promotes electoral reforms that make voting easy, equitable, and effective at expressing public will through election results. We oppose gerrymandering, that is, manipulation of election district boundaries to favor one party or class. We advocate for fair, transparent redistricting. We are interested in any issue or process that directly affects any Florida citizen’s access to voting (e.g., voter registration, voting machines, ballot design, etc).
The 2018 election provided evidence that Florida election systems need reform through additional legislation. League 2019 priorities for election law (see below) include process changes to avoid existing vote-by-mail ballot problems, to allow same-day voter registration, to standardize ballot design, and to support an open primary election system. Watch this page for information from the Election Reform Coalition for the progress of all proposed relevant legislation.
The League continues to be an active supporter of Amendment 4, which restored voting rights to former felons who have completed their entire sentence, except for those convicted of murder or felony sex offenses. The League will actively support voting rights restoration activities for returning citizens in 2019 while looking forward to 2020.
Election Law Legislative Priorities and Issues
- Support automatic registration (opt-out system), same-day voter registration, and improved online voter registration.
- Extend deadlines for signatures cures, recounts and postmark delays caused by the postal service. Support a standardized ballot design and state funding for hardware and software to improve the recount process in close elections.
- Support home rule for counties and municipalities and oppose any preemptive legislation to counter home rule.
- Support statewide use of an Open Primary election system that allows for the broadest possible voter participation.
- Support the election of the President and Vice President by direct popular vote via the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.
Voter Services Co-Chairs:
- Election Reform Chair: Michele Levy
- Voter Education: Rachel Federgreen
- Election Security: Candace Hoke
- Voting Rights Restoration Chair: Cecile Scoon
For more resources and news about voter restoration and registering disenfranchised voters, click HERE.
If you are interested in CLE-credit training for lawyers or volunteers willing to help returning citizens obtain their voting rights, click HERE.
Join the LWVFL Election Reform or Voting Rights Restoration Team! You must be a member of the League of Women Voters of Florida or one of our Local Chapters to participate, please become a member HERE.