Notice of Proposed Rule

Division of Elections
1S-2.049: Absentee Ballots for Non-overseas Absent Uniformed Services Voters
PURPOSE AND EFFECT: The purpose of the new rule which deals exclusively with uniformed services voters who are absent stateside (not overseas) is to provide procedures to this specific class of voters in light of the recently enacted Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act (MOVE Act) (Public law 111-84, subpart H of the Military Defense Authorization Act) and the new Chapter law 2010-167, Laws of Florida. The MOVE Act included a number of provisions to facilitate absentee ballot requests by all voters entitled to vote absentee under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) and to enhance the timely delivery and return of voted absentee ballots by such voters. The proposed rule also reflects the federal law and state law change that requires absentee ballots to be sent 45 days in advance of any election. The proposed rule changes also reflects the directive to states to coordinate with local election officials to give the voter more choices to designate how he or she wants to make and receive absentee ballot requests, and receive absentee ballots and other election materials including via electronic mail.
SUMMARY: The proposed new provides uniform procedures for submitting and processing absentee ballot requests, and for facilitating the timely delivery and return of absentee ballots for absent stateside uniformed services members.
SUMMARY OF STATEMENT OF ESTIMATED REGULATORY COSTS: No Statement of Estimated Regulatory Cost was prepared.
Any person who wishes to provide information regarding a statement of estimated regulatory costs, or provide a proposal for a lower cost regulatory alternative must do so in writing within 21 days of this notice.
SPECIFIC AUTHORITY: 20.10(3), 97.012(1), 101.697 FS.
LAW IMPLEMENTED: 101.62, 101.64, 101.65, 101.697 FS.
DATE AND TIME: July 19, 2010, 1:00 p.m.
PLACE: Room 307, R. A. Gray Building, Florida Department of State, 500 S. Bronough Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32399
Pursuant to the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act, any person requiring special accommodations to participate in this workshop/meeting is asked to advise the agency at least 7 days before the workshop/meeting by contacting: Eddie L. Phillips, Executive Office Assistant, Office of General Counsel, Florida Department of State at: or (850)245-6536. If you are hearing or speech impaired, please contact the agency using the Florida Relay Service, 1(800)955-8771 (TDD) or 1(800)955-8770 (Voice).
THE PERSON TO BE CONTACTED REGARDING THE PROPOSED RULE IS: Maria Matthews, Assistant General Counsel, Florida Department of State, 500 S. Bronough Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-0250, at (850)245-6536;


1S-2.049 Absentee Ballots – Absent Stateside Uniformed Services Voters.

(1) Application. This rule applies solely to absentee ballot requests and to the delivery and return of absentee ballots for uniformed services members who are absent stateside. Such persons are defined to include:

(a) A member of a uniformed service on active duty who, by reason of active duty, is absent (but not overseas) from the place of residence where the member is otherwise qualified to vote,

(b) A member of the Merchant Marine who, by reason of service, is absent (but not overseas) from the place of residence where the member is otherwise qualified to voter, or

(c) A spouse or dependent of a member described in paragraph (a) or (b) who, by reason of the active duty or service of the member, is also absent (but not overseas) from the place of residence where the spouse or dependent is otherwise qualified to vote.

(2) Requests.

(a) The absent stateside uniformed services voter, an immediate family member of the voter, or the legal guardian of the voter, may request an absentee ballot via:

1. Telephone.

2. Fax.

3. E-mail.

4. Any other form of written request.

(b) The request for an absentee ballot must include:

1. The name of the voter for whom the ballot is requested.

2. The voter’s date of birth.

3. The voter’s legal residence in Florida.

4. An indication of how the voter wants the ballot to be delivered (mail, fax, or e-mail).

5. One of the following:

i. An out-of-county mailing address.

ii. A fax machine number, and an out-of-county address (only for purposes of affirming absence from county).

iii. An e-mail address, and an out-of-county address (only for purposes of affirming absence from county).

iv. The voter’s signature (written requests only other than through e-mail or through online request), or if the requester is other than the voter, the requester’s name, address, driver’s license number (if available), signature, and relationship to the voter.

(3) Processing requests. When a supervisor receives an absentee ballot request from an absent stateside uniformed services voter, the supervisor shall:

(a) Verify the information provided to determine if the voter is a qualified and registered voter for the election.

(b) Provide in the manner requested by the voter the appropriate absentee ballot, the instructions for voting and returning the ballot, and the Voter’s Certificate.

(c) Record the receipt date of the request, the date and manner in which the Supervisor made the absentee ballot available to the voter, and the mailing mailing address, e-mail address, or fax number provided by the voter.

(d) Ensure that the Supervisor of Elections’ office transmitting and receiving equipment is in a secure location with access limited to the Supervisor’s employees and that the absentee ballot is sent directly to the mailing or e-mail address or fax number or other transmission destination made available to the absent stateside uniformed services voter.

(4) Return of voted absentee ballot. A voted ballot by an absent stateside uniformed services voter returned by e-mail or by fax shall not be accepted. An absent uniformed services voter may return a voted absentee ballot by mail, in person (if he or she returns to county of residence) or through someone else on behalf of the voter. To be accepted and counted, a voted absentee ballot must be received by the supervisor of elections no later than 7:00 p.m. on election day in the time zone for the county in which the absent uniformed services voter is registered.

(5) Voter’s Certificate. The Voter’s Certificate for absentee ballots being sent to absent stateside uniformed services voters shall be in substantially the following form:

Note: Please Read Instructions Carefully Before Marking Ballot and Completing Voter’s Certificate


I,_________, swear or affirm, under penalty of perjury, that I am:

1. A member of the Uniformed Services or merchant marine on active duty; or an eligible spouse or dependent of such a member; or a U.S. citizen temporarily residing outside the U.S.; or Other U.S. citizen residing outside the U.S.

2. I am a U. S. citizen, at least 18 years of age (or will be by the date of the election), and I am eligible to vote in the requested jurisdiction; and

3. I have not been convicted of a felony, or other disqualifying offense, or been adjudicated mentally incompetent, or, if so, my voting rights have been reinstated; and

4. I am not registering, requesting a ballot, or voting in any other jurisdiction in the U. S., except the jurisdiction cited in this voting form.

In voting, I have marked and sealed my ballot in private and have not allowed any person to observe the marking of the ballot, except for those authorized to assist voters under State or Federal law. I have not been influenced.

My signature and date below indicate when I completed this document. The information on this form is true, accurate and complete to the best of my knowledge. I understand that a material misstatement of fact in completion of this document may constitute grounds for a conviction for perjury.

Signed:____________________Date: ___________________


(6) Ballot instructions. Ballot instructions in substantially the following form must be provided with each absentee ballot to an absent stateside uniformed services voter:


1. In order to ensure that your absentee ballot is counted, complete and return the ballot soon as possible to the supervisor of elections of the county in which you are registered so that the ballot is received no later than 7:00 p.m. on the election day in the time zone for the county in which you are registered.

2. Mark your ballot in secret as instructed on the ballot. You must mark your own ballot unless you are unable to do so because of blindness, disability, or inability to read or write.

3. Mark only the number of candidate or issue choices for a race as indicated on the ballot. If you are allowed to “Vote for One” candidate and you vote for more than one candidate, your vote in that race will not be counted.

4. VERY IMPORTANT. In order for your ballot to be counted, you must also complete the Voter’s Certificate, which must include your signature. Failure to include a signature or a date means your ballot may not be counted. Your ballot will be rejected also if the signature on the certificate does not match the signature on the voter registration record.

5. To return your voted absentee ballot and voter’s certificate:

a. Place your marked ballot in a secrecy envelope or sleeve, as provided to you or in an unmarked envelope (if the ballot was faxed or e-mailed to you).

b. Insert the secrecy envelope or sleeve, or unmarked envelope inside a separate mailing envelope. If the ballot was mailed to you, use the mailing envelope provided and complete the Voter’s Certificate on the back. If the ballot was faxed or e-mailed to you, place the secrecy envelope or sleeve or unmarked envelope and the completed Voter’s Certificate in another envelope for mailing. Do not enclose the Voter’s Certificate in the secrecy envelope or sleeve, or unmarked envelope with the ballot. Clearly mark the mailing envelope “Absentee Ballot Enclosed.”

6. You may mail, deliver or have delivered by someone else your absentee ballot to the supervisor of elections. Faxed or e-mailed voted ballots will not be accepted. To mail your ballot free of postage, use the template provided at to print directly onto the mailing envelope or otherwise affix to the mailing envelope. Otherwise, clearly mark the mailing envelope “Absentee Ballot Enclosed” and provide sufficient postage.

7. FELONY NOTICE. It is a felony under Florida law to accept any gift, payment, or gratuity in exchange for your vote for a candidate. It is also a felony under Florida law to vote in an election using a false identity or false address, or under any circumstances making your ballot false or fraudulent.

(7) Processing returned absentee ballots.

(a) The supervisor shall record the date the voted absentee ballot is received from the absent stateside uniformed services voter.

(b) If an absent stateside uniformed services voters returns the voted ballot to the supervisor in an envelope other than an absentee ballot mailing envelope provided by the supervisor, the canvassing board is authorized to open the mailing envelope to determine if the Voter’s Certificate is enclosed in the mailing envelope. If the Voter’s Certificate is not enclosed, the envelope or sleeve containing the ballot shall not be opened and the envelope shall be marked “Rejected as Illegal.” If the Voter’s Certificate is enclosed, the Voter’s Certificate shall be reviewed.

(c) If the canvassing board determines that the voter is eligible to vote, the ballot shall be processed as other absentee ballots. If the returned absentee ballot was originally faxed or e-mailed or accessed electronically by some other means, the ballot shall be removed from the envelope and duplicated so that it can be processed through the tabulating equipment.

Rulemaking Authority 20.10(3), 97.012(1), 97.012(1), 101.697 FS. Law Implemented 101.62, 101.64, 101.65, 101.697 FS. History– New________.

NAME OF PERSON ORIGINATING PROPOSED RULE: Donald L. Palmer, Director, Division of Elections