(Tallahassee, FL, Thursday, July 23, 2020) – Floridians have three options to participate in our democratic process: voting by mail, voting early, and voting on Election Day. However, the health implications associated with the COVID-19 pandemic has brought two particular options – voting by mail and early voting – to the forefront as they offer Floridians the most flexibility to safely and securely cast their ballot.
All Voting is Local Florida wants Floridians to understand all of their options so they can safely cast their ballots, and one way to do that is to vote by mail. Rather than vote in-person, an increasing number of Floridians are opting to vote by mail, but this method also has its baggage. As myths, misinformation, and general unease hover over the remote form of voting persist, it’s important for Floridians to understand their voting options and feel comfortable participating in our democratic process.
In 2011, the Florida Legislature slashed early voting hours in half which led to long lines in 2012 and forced lawmakers to come back the following session to restore the early voting hours they stripped away. The law focused on giving local election officials flexibility by setting low minimum requirements while allowing options days and hours. But despite the widespread interest in the upcoming elections and the coronavirus contagion lurking in the background, not every county is offering the maximum number of early voting hours – which could mean crowded polling places that threaten public safety.
From the infamous hanging chads of the 2000 election to long lines at polling places in 2018, Florida voters have faced countless barriers to the ballot. Time and again, election officials make decision that erect barriers to the same communities that know the harm of being disenfranchised: African Americans, low-income voters, students and people who don’t speak fluent English. In Florida, All Voting is Local is fighting to remove those obstacles and achieve these goals: students and communities of color have more opportunities to vote early, in person; voters who speak Spanish, Haitian Creole, and other languages receive ballots, voting materials, and support in their native language as required by law; and all overs, no matter who they are or where they live, can vote without waiting in long lines at their polling places.