Early voting in Florida for the August 26th primary election has begun – the State has published a master list of early voting sites for all counties.
From a campaign finance perspective, an interesting Division of Election Opinion (08-07) was issued last month pertaining the use of PayPal. While the Division is not a believer in third-party websites accepting campaign contributions without registering as a political committee (08-03), it does not see a problem with candidates using PayPal from links on their own website. As to the date the contribution should be listed on disclosure reports, the Division likens PayPal to the Postal Service and states that payment should be dated on the date PayPal transfers the money into the campaign account. In reading the opinion and having used PayPal, my only question would be is that the date the money is in the PayPal account or the date the money is transferred from the PayPal account to the designated campaign bank account? Chapter 106, Florida Statutes would appear to focus on possession of the funds, not which account, but the opinion is not precise on that issue.
Yes, believe it or not, the Florida Primary (the primary for Congress, State and Local races, not the Presidency) will arrive soon, courtesy of early voting beginning on August 11, 2008. This article reminded me that this will be the first large scale early voting in the larger Florida counties using paper ballots and optical scan equipment. The most populous Florida counties had been using touchscreen voting machines since the 2002 election cycle; having left the punch card behind after that technology was decertified after the 2000 election. How will voters react? Will voters be surprised that the technology offered has changed for the 2nd time this decade? Will the addition of optical scan equipment to early voting sites cause delays?
The last day to register to vote in the Florida Primary is July 28th, 2008.
The U.S. Department of Justice has announced it has settled with Osceola County, resolving a challenge to the county’s School Board districts under the Voting Rights Act. Last week, according to the Orlando Sentinel, the School Board adopted the new districts enhancing the chances of electing a Hispanic candidate for the first time.
The Miami Herald is reporting that the requirement in Florida that voters register 29 days before an election was held to be reasonable and not imposing a severe burden on constitutional rights by a Federal Judge in Miami . The Elections Supervisors (Broward, Duval, Miami-Dade, Orange, and Palm Beach Counties) in the case previously settled the case, agreeing to pay fees and to institute a “grace period” for voter registrations if such a change were allowed by law. To date, I am not aware of any such change.
The NY Times and other sources are reporting the Florida Democratic Party has given up on the idea of a new primary before the party’s summer convention. Since the idea is still alive in Michigan, I’d be surprised if more discussion doesn’t happen, at least while the Florida Legislature is still in session. The reasons given in Florida appear to be costs, ongoing change of voting technology, and the need to preclear changes under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.
Since this issue is getting bipartisan attention, with the statements from the Florida and Michigan governors, I thought I’d start writing about it here. As you know, the Florida Presidential Preference Primary was moved earlier this year. As a result, the Democratic National Committee has reportedly stated the Florida vote would not count towards delegates at this summer’s convention. According to reports, the Republican National Committee will only reduce Florida’s delegate count by 50%. With the Democratic race still to be decided, the question of a new vote in Florida continues to come up in the media. This will be interesting to watch as the Presidential Preference Primary is spelled out in statute – a repeat election could cause all sorts of challenges determining what rules to apply. I’ll write more about the statutory issues as this debate goes on.
The Orlando Sentinel reports that one of the political parties mailed stamps to voters and told them to use the stamps to return their absentee ballot for the Florida House District 32 contest. The question is whether that crosses the line and constitutes a bribe under Fla. Stat. 104.061 or is of such nominal value that it does not cause a problem.
The Senate Committee on Ethics and Elections held a workshop on Wednesday to review several proposed election law changes. As covered in the Sun Sentinel, notable among these is a proposal to bar local governments from spending public money to run advertisements concerning an upcoming referendum. The bill is online at the Senate site and the workshop agenda packet is also available.
On January 28th, the State’s Division of Elections issued an opinion concerning public access to the ballot tabulating room. In short, the Division opined that canvassing boards could limit public access to the computer room used to tabulate votes as long as representatives of political parties are able to be in the tabulation room. The division added that if the canvassing board was conducting its work in a room that the public could not enter, either due to size or security, the canvassing board should “transmit the audio” from its work room to a place the public could listen in. The opinion is 08-01.