League Policy: The League of Women Voters of the United States believes that voting is a fundamental citizen right that must be guaranteed.
Our coalition is made up of the Palm Beach County chapters of the League of Women Voters, National Council of Jewish Women, and American Civil Liberties Union.
The focus of the coalition is to:
- To assure voting rights for all Florida citizens;
- combat voter suppression in its many forms. We study redistricting and follow litigation, both national and in Florida. Gerrymandering of districts has made a joke of ‘one man, one vote’. Nationwide and in Florida, elected officials have drawn district lines to protect incumbents. These inequities are a major threat to our democracy;
- advocate for passage of the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. Since 1970, the League of Women Voters has believed the Electoral College is inequitable and undemocratic, and that it is inconsistent with the one-person, one-vote bedrock principle of our democracy. We are advocating for passage of the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact: the only system that:
- makes all states competitive,
- makes every vote count,
- guarantees that the candidate with the most votes wins the election,
- pushes presidential candidates to adopt agendas that unite voters,
- would NOT require an amendment to the US Constitution.
Nancy Cohen, email@example.com, 561-842-2499
- educate about the importance of judicial vacancies in Florida life;
- support and advocate for restoration of voting rights. There are 1.6 million Florida citizens of voting age who are forbidden to vote because of prior felony conviction. This disenfranchisement is a particular Florida shame; 25% of disfranchised citizens nationwide are in Florida. Click here to learn more…
- study and research issues, educate our members and the public, speak at meetings, and advocate to our legislators and the public. We believe study, education and advocacy are the ways to effect change in these turbulent times.
Linda Geller-Schwartz, firstname.lastname@example.org, 561-362-8069
Come join us. The Voting Rights Coalition meets monthly on the first Thursday of the month at 2:00PM. We take a summer recess, there are no meetings June, July and August.
Compass, Inc, 201 North Dixie Hwy, Lake Worth
Despite Confusion About Amendment 4, Florida Is Granting Felons Voting Rights
By DANIEL RIVERO • FEB 27, 2019
Despite ongoing confusion about the roll out of a recent expansion of voting rights in Florida, county election offices across the state say people who rushed to register to vote when Amendment 4 went into effect in January have been issued voter information cards with no issues.
Supervisor of Elections offices in Broward, Palm Beach, Monroe and Hillsborough Counties told WLRN that 100 percent of the people who registered to vote in January have been sent their voter registration cards. That includes many people who told media they showed up to register to vote on the day Amendment 4 went into effect, January 8.
Florida voters passed Amendment 4 in November with 65 percent of the vote. The amendment to the state constitution expanded the right to vote for over a million people with felony convictions in the state, so long as all the terms of their sentence have been completed.
Lawmakers and watchdogs have publicly squabbled over the definition of when a sentence is completed. As WLRN has reported, a major issue is whether fines associated with felony convictions need to be paid before someone registers to vote.
If that interpretation is taken, Florida residents could owe hundreds of millions of dollars before being eligible to vote.
“I would argue that no, your sentence is not up until you pay all your fines,” State Sen. Jeff Brandes, a proponent of many criminal justice reform initiatives, recently told WLRN. “I don’t think any county supervisor of elections in the state can say with certainty that they know which people on their rolls are actually eligible to vote.”
But elections supervisors have been sending voter information cards to new registrants across the state, including those with felony convictions. Those cards serve as an acknowledgement that the state has backgrounded the registrant and they are indeed eligible to vote.
“It’s done. It’s done,” Joyce Griffin, the Supervisor of Elections for Monroe County, said of uncertainty about how the Amendment will get rolled out. “It’s almost like, you get into a fight and it’s hard to calm down afterwards. You need a second to pause and slow your heart rate. That’s what it was like for this: the fight to get it passed was so intense, people were still riled up and uncertain about what would happen that it was like they were gearing up for the next fight. But I’ll tell you -- the fight is over.”
Clarence Office, who owes over $1,000 in fines related to a felony charge from a decade ago, even got his card in the mail. WLRN was with him when he registered to vote the day Amendment 4 went into effect, and later talked with him for a story about how pending fines could potentially impact his right to vote.
“It took about three weeks to come in,” Office said by phone. "As soon as the first election comes up, I’ll be voting."
Prominent advocates for the passage of Amendment 4 have received their voter information cards in the mail. Desmond Meade, who spearheaded the entire effort, told WLRN he received his voter registration card in the mail from the Orange County Supervisor of Elections Office. His colleague Neil Volz, with the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, received his card from the Lee County Supervisor of Elections Office in late January. He posted a photo on Twitter.
"I teared up, I hugged my wife. I sent out some text messages and phone calls and just celebrated," Volz told WLRN. "Not a day goes by that I don’t get a text message or a Facebook message from somebody who’s getting their voting card. It’s happening all across the state in all 67 counties."
The impact of any new registrations could technically be immediate.
Local elections began as early as February 19, when Golden Beach, a small city in Miami-Dade County, held an election. On March 5, the population center Tampa has a closely watched municipal election, including a Mayor’s race. The following week there is an election in Duval County, which includes Jacksonville. That election includes races for Jacksonville city Mayor, Duval County Sheriff, and other top county and city posts.
The Supervisor of Elections for Hillsborough County, where Tampa is located, has also sent voter identification cards to 100 percent of people who have registered to vote since Amendment 4 came into effect, the office told WLRN. The elections office in Duval County did not respond to requests for comment.
Two committees in the Florida Senate have held hearings about how to implement Amendment 4, and have questioned whether legislation still needs to be passed and signed from the Governor before it gets implemented. As of now, no bills directly addressing Amendment 4 have been filed by either chamber of the Florida legislature.
Reprinted from WLRN Miami|South Florida
Amendment 4: Restoration of Voting Rights
“I am ready, willing and able to assist citizens who are working to get their voting rights restored. Although my office does not determine voter eligibility, we can provide citizens with court information, including the status of payment for fines and fees imposed as part of a sentence. For more information on the status of a case, or the payment of fines and fees, please visit our website at mypalmbeachclerk.com.” Sharon R. Bock, Esq., Clerk & Comptroller, Palm Beach County.
Registering to Vote- Now that Amendment 4 has passed
You may download, print, share and distribute this information.
Click here for the PDF.
INFORMATION FOR EX-FELONS WHO
WANT TO REGISTER TO VOTE
Effective January 8th, 2019 Floridians with felony convictions who have completed ALL the terms of their sentences (excluding murderers and felony sex offenders) can register to vote.
When registering to vote everyone must check a box that says they have not been convicted of a felony or, if they have, their rights have been restored.
If you have not fulfilled all the terms of your sentence, by checking the box on the form you are providing incorrect information and can be charged with a 3rd degree felony, carrying jail time and a fine.
To find out whether you are eligible to register, contact
FLORIDA RIGHTS RESTORATION COALITION
877-698-6830 (toll free)
If you were registered before being convicted, you must re-register. In order to vote your application must be received no later than 29 days before an election.
You can register at any office of the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections, public libraries, the DMV, VA and through any organization authorized to register voters, such as the League of Women Voters.
ENMIENDA 4 INFORMACION PARA EX-REOS QUE
En 2018, los votantes de Florida aprobaron la Enmienda 4 sobre la Restitución de los Derechos Electorales. Dicha enmienda restablece los derechos de votación de los Floridanos que han sido condenados por delitos graves después de que cumplan todas los términos de su sentencia, lo cual incluye la libertad condicional o provisional. La enmienda no regiría para aquellos condenados por homicidio o delitos sexuales.
COMO PUEDE AVERIGUAR SI SE HAN RESTAURADO SUS DERECHOS ELECTORALES?
Ud. tiene la responsabilidad de declarer que toda la información consignada en su solicitud de inscripción electoral es correcta y precisa. Las siguiente entidad cuenta con recursos para ayudarlo a verificar si ha cumplido enteramente con las obligaciones impuestas por su condena.
FLORIDA RIGHTS RESTORATION COALITION
877-698-6830 (llamada gratis)
SI LE HAN RESTITUIDO SUS DERECHOS ELECTORALES, QUE DEBE HACER?
Antes de poder votar en cualquier elección deberá inscribirse para votar. Según la ley estatal, debe estar inscrito al menos 29 días antes de una elección. Puede inscribirse para votar:
En cualquier oficina del Suervisor de Elecciones del Condado de Palm Beach;
En un evento de inscripción comunitario;
En una agencia de inscripción electoral (una biblioteca pública u oficina de DMV)
Para realizer el trámite necesita una licencia de conducir de Florida, una credencial de identificación de Florida o los últimos 4 digitos de su número de Seguro Social;
En línea: https://registertovoteflorida.gov
OJO: SI HA SIDO ELIMINADO DEL PADRON ELECTORAL A CAUSA DE UNA CONDENA POR DELITO GRAVE, DEBERA VOLVER A INSCRIBIRSE PARA VOTAR.
Patricia Brigham: Some easy, necessary steps to fix Florida’s elections problems
Voters need to know that when they cast their ballots, their votes are going to count. State officials should be doing everything possible to make that happen.
Florida, we have a problem: our elections system. The 2018 elections debacle showed the world that when it comes to elections, Florida still can’t seem to get it right.
We saw confirmation of this when the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that a state law requiring signature matches between mail-in ballots and those on file with elections officials disenfranchised Florida’s
voters. In the 2-1 opinion, Judge Robin Rosenbaum wrote, “Florida’s signature-match scheme subjects vote-by-mail and provisional electors to the risk of disenfranchisement.”
Judge Rosenbaum’s use of the word “scheme” is noteworthy in a state where, until recently, students wishing to vote early on their college and university campuses were unable to do so. When U.S. District Judge Mark Walker
overturned that prohibition, he wrote that the ban revealed a “stark pattern of discrimination.’’
Disenfranchisement and discrimination. Strong words that certainly hint at “schemes.” So do tossed and uncounted ballots, which were prominent features of the 2018 election and its resulting three simultaneous recounts.
It’s past time that Florida gets its elections right. Seriously, it’s not rocket science.
Setting realistic deadlines to “cure” signatures that have an issue would be a good first step. Elections officials aren’t robots. In instances like a massive recount, deadlines should match the needs of elections staff members to
make sure all eligible ballots are counted. In fact, an extension of the time lines for recounts in close elections makes good sense and is the responsible, democratic thing to do.
Deadlines are also an issue when it comes to registering to vote. Is there any good reason to prevent an eligible voter from registering on election day? More voters would likely vote and the need for those sticky-widget provisional ballots would significantly decrease.
In a state with a history of elections issues, ensuring that all voting machines, including those for persons with disabilities, have a readable paper trail is essential. This is particularly important in light of the recent legislative push to equip polling places with Express Vote machines. The argument is that these machines will better help the disabled vote. That is indeed a good thing. The problem is that these machines pose a security risk as the voting machine’s optical scanner reads a barcode instead of a “human-readable” ballot marking; in other words, readable words. Unless the voter verifies who and what he or she has voted for, the only way to truly verify this would be for an auditor to match the bar code with the vote.
Wait a minute. That does sound like rocket science.
In an important swing state as Florida, stakes are high. Voters need to know that when they cast their ballots, their votes are going to count. Our state officials should be doing everything they can to make that happen. And that
includes being true to the will of approximately 64 percent of the voters who pushed Amendment 4 over the finish line. Our state will now (finally) enfranchise some 1.4 million “returning citizens” — those with felony
convictions (barring murder or sexual assault) — who were unable to vote after serving their time and paying their debt to society. Our Legislature, now debating the definition of “murder,” needs to make sure these returning
citizens, many of whom are already registering, have their ballots counted when the 2020 elections roll around. They should expect nothing less.
Meanwhile, Floridians should expect more of our state when it comes to improving our elections systems. When Judge Walker stated in court during the 2018 recount that Florida’s elections have “been the laughingstock of the
world,” he also pointed out that, “election after election, we chose not to fix this.”
To borrow a phrase, time’s up.
Patricia Brigham is president of the Florida League of Women Voters.