On November 13, representatives of the Voting Rights Coalition, Mark Schneider, Nancy Cohen and Harriet Diamond met with Supervisor of Elections Wendy Link and PBC Director of Elections Sean Williams to discuss problems experienced in past elections and ways to correct them for the upcoming elections.   This was a productive meeting, during which we covered many issues.  Among them was (i) the access of minorities to the polls and, in particular, the lack of early voting sites in east Delray and the Glades; (ii) problems at the early voting site at FAU Boca; (iii) voting from jail; and (iv) the issue of how mismatched signatures on the VBM have been handled.

We were informed that the SOE has increased early voting sites to 16 for the upcoming election but, as a result of legal requirements for any voting site, this number could not be increased further.  However, the SOE plans to ease crowding at early voting sites by posting waiting times for each site on the SOE website.   SOE Link also agreed to keep FAU as an early voting site and to try to correct one of the difficulties last time, namely change of address issues. Voters will be encouraged to change addresses online. We said that we would try to help give better publicity to FAU’s early voting site and ensure that FAU workers knew they can vote there as well.

We also raised the issue of voting from jail (non-felons).  A number of counties (Alachua County, Hillsborough and Pinellas) have such a program.  While VBM forms are currently in jails in Palm Beach County, the Voting Rights Coalition is looking into the best way for prisoners to have access to the forms and return them.

Finally, we raised the serious problem of voters being uncertain as to whether their VBM ballots were received and accepted.  Under new procedures, the SOE will send VBM status via email or phone if the voter supplies contact information when the voter registers.  Voters will get notifications continuously every day until the problem is cured or the election is held.  Political parties and PACs are now eligible to get a daily list of VBM rejects.

Next Voting Rights Coalition meeting Thursday, January 2, 2020, 2 pm at Compass, 201 North Dixie, Lake Worth Beach.  Come join us.