Florida Policy Makers Must Enact Voting Reforms Now Ahead of August Primary, Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

TALLAHASSEE–All Voting is Local and over 30 statewide voting rights organizations called on Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Florida Secretary of State Laurel M. Lee, legislative leaders and election officials to immediately implement election reforms, including paid return postage for mail in ballots and online voter registration system improvements, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to protect public safety and democracy.

In their letter, the groups said: “We are committed to ensuring that every eligible person is able to safely and conveniently register to vote, cast their ballot, and have their vote counted during the upcoming Primary and General Elections while protecting the health and safety of voters and elections personnel alike. Our organizations urge you and other election officials to make all plans necessary to complete the primary election by August 18, 2020 as planned, and the presidential election by November 3, 2020 in accordance with federal law. Indeed, the very purpose of this letter is to provide guidance on how our state can administer elections without disenfranchising any of our fellow citizens.”

Among the group’s recommendations:

  • Send vote-by-mail request forms to both active and inactive eligible voters with links to a printable voter registration form to update signatures. Send other educational materials that may be developed to facilitate voting this election cycle, or a method to request the linked material to be sent by mail.
  • Provide vote-by-mail return envelope ballots with pre-paid postage.
  • Assess, fix, and bolster the online voter registration (OVR) system to ensure it can accommodate a surge in web traffic and is fully accessible to all voters.
  • Provide the maximum allowable number of days, and hours per day of early in person voting to reduce long lines, maintain social distancing and lessen administrative stress on election day.
  • Create options for curbside voting for voters with disabilities or illnesses who may not be able to leave their vehicles. Under the current circumstances, curbside voting should be available to any voter who feels that voting inside poses a risk to their health.
  • Provide information about the changes to election procedures and voting locations in all required languages, and offer language assistance remotely in an accessible manner.
  • Allocate CARE Act funds to ensure elections run well in this new environment, including covering costs of expanded remote registration, voting by mail, and expanded early voting opportunities ahead of Election Day; and be prepared to fill gaps that the federal funds do not.

A full list of recommendations is available here, and the letter is signed by the following groups:

All Voting Is Local Florida

ACLU of Florida

Alianza for Progress

Asian American Federation of Florida

Boricua Vota

Campaign Legal Center

Common Cause Florida

Disability Rights Florida

Engage Miami

Fair Elections Center

Faith In Public Life

Florida AFL-CIO

Florida Asian Services

Florida Asian Women Alliance

Florida Center for Fiscal & Economic Policy

Florida Conversation Voters Education Fund

Florida People’s Advocacy Center

For Our Future Florida Action Fund

Florida Student Power Network

Iniciativa Acción Puertorriqueña

League of Women Voters of Florida

Miami Freedom Project

Mi Familia Vota

NAACP Florida State Conference

National Congress of Black Women, Florida Chapter

New Florida Majority

NextGen

Organization of Chinese Americans, South Florida Chapter

Progress Florida Education Institute

Southern Poverty Law Center Action Fund

The Common Ground Project

The Florida Civic Engagement Table

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

The Voting Rights Lab

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