Don’t Pennsylvania My Florida | Opportunity For All Floridians

Don’t Pennsylvania My Florida

Guest post by Josh Sproat

I’m a naturalized Floridian. I grew up in the cold and gray of Western Pennsylvania, and relocated to the Sunshine state to pursue career opportunities- and to escape the drudgery of northern winter. I remembered the confusion and chaos surrounding the 2000 election in Florida: the “butterfly ballots,” the “hanging chads,” the lawsuit between Al Gore and George W. Bush which ended up in the US Supreme Court, and so I was pleasantly surprised by the ease, convenience and security of voting in Florida, especially voting by mail. Vote-by-Mail in Florida is easy to apply for, and if you ask for a standing request for all elections, they send you your ballot with plenty of time for you to do your research and make an informed vote. And they give you options for how to turn it in: via the US Postal Service, or by taking it to a secure ballot dropbox — or you can decide to vote in person after all. Best of all: it’s entirely trackable. You can see if your ballot was received and counted online. Clearly, Florida had strengthened its voting system since 2000, to the point where it’s now considered one of the best in the country.

But now Florida lawmakers might revive a bill from last year’s session, SB 7061, that could add steps for the average voter and weaken our secure and convenient vote-by-mail process.

Around the country, recent elections have been clouded by unsupported, unproven allegations of voter fraud or partisan interference in counting totals. In my home state of Pennsylvania, election deniers filed multiple legal challenges over the 2020 election, with many citing a supposed lack of security around mailed votes. Rather than making elections in Pennsylvania more secure and strengthening our democracy, these attacks have made elections in Pennsylvania a mess. In many Pennsylvania elections since then, the final outcomes have been delayed because of a rule that prevents counting ballots received before Election Day and because baseless challenges slow the counting of votes and acceptance of results.

These lawsuits have purposely stoked controversy, which has raised doubts about how to complete ballots correctly, particularly among older voters. My 70-something parents have respiratory issues and voted by mail for the first time in 2020. It was difficult to convince them it was a secure method with so much misinformation circulating. It was frustrating to consider they might risk their health to have certainty that their votes would be counted without a challenge.

In response to the accusations, many states passed laws adding additional procedures or steps to the voting process and vote-by-mail rules. You might think that with all these additional procedures, we could expect to see a jump in ballots identified as fraudulent. Instead, rejection rates have remained approximately the same, with no evidence of additional fraud detected. In fact, where ballot rejection rates have increased, Texas is one example, election security officials say votes were disqualified due to failure to follow the new security requirements, not because of fraud. Could that be the real intent of all these new restrictions?

There is no evidence of widespread fraud in Florida, so following the Pennsylvania or Texas model would only serve to weaken our “gold-standard” vote-by-mail system, not enhance security. Election reporting in Florida is a model of efficiency, and with a major study examining election security due in February, Floridians will affirm what works and patch any weak spots. Florida legislators have many priorities that should come before casting doubt on the legitimacy of our own elections!

Take it from this Pennsylvania transplant: Florida gets voting right. Let’s make sure Tallahassee doesn’t mess with success and keeps vote-by-mail easy, secure, trackable, and accessible to all voters.

How many mail ballots states rejected in 2022:

Source: NPR

Actions you can take to protect Democracy:

Write Your Lawmakers: Protect Vote-by-Mail in Florida

Millions of Floridians from all walks of life rely on Florida’s Vote-by-Mail system to participate in our democracy. Tell the Florida Legislature: our vote-by-mail system is the gold standard, don’t take away our freedom to vote by mail!

Add Your Name

Floridians Passed Medical Marijuana Through Direct Democracy—Tell Your Lawmaker: Don’t Silence our Voices

Florida voters legalized medical marijuana in 2016 through direct democracy at the ballot box. Tell your lawmaker: no new limits on citizen-led ballot initiatives!

Add Your Name

Direct Democracy Saved Greyhounds in Florida—Tell Your Lawmaker: Don’t Silence Our Voices!

We passed a measure saving greyhounds from cruelty through the citizen-led ballot initiative practice. Write Your Lawmakers: Don’t Silence Our Voices!

Add Your Name

More articles about

Ballot Initiatives: The People’s Superheroes of Florida

Whether it was approving medical marijuana in 2016, or restoring voting rights in 2018, raising the minimum wage in 2020, the voters of Florida have shown that they will use ballot initiatives to be the people’s superheroes.

Read More →

Advocacy Groups Launch Digital Ad Campaign To Boost Vote-By-Mail Enrollment in Florida

Opportunity For All Floridians and the Miami Freedom Project launched a digital ad campaign to boost vote-by-mail enrollment, and to ask Floridians to contact their state legislators to urge them to protect our vote-by-mail system.

Read More →

Florida Voters Removed from Vote-By-Mail Enrollment: What You Need to Know

Because of a new law, all Florida voters were removed from enrollment in vote-by-mail. To participate in future elections via mail-in voting, Florida voters must re-enroll in vote-by-mail.

Read More →

Take Action Now

Want to get involved? Check out some important ways you can make your voice heard below.