SB 7050 Implementation Letter to Supervisors of Elections 6.22.23
June 22, 2023
Dear Supervisor of Elections,
On July 1, 2023, new changes to Florida voting laws will come into effect. These changes will further impact voter accessibility, particularly for voters who prefer to vote by mail, and could potentially limit the availability of voter registration opportunities and resources in often-overlooked communities.
We can only imagine the burden these legislative changes have created for you and your staff, and we thank you for all you have done to assist the voters in your county. As voting rights organizations, we have created the following recommendations to bring to your attention some important issues that may have been overlooked and to ensure that all voters within your jurisdiction are aware of changes to procedures related to the implementation of new state laws, so that no eligible voter misses the opportunity to cast their ballot. Additionally, we offer some suggestions as to how to engage with third-party voter registration organizations that may see their voter engagement efforts impaired by the recent signing of SB 7050.
Information on SOE website and Mailers
Earlier this year, All Voting is Local and partner organizations shared a letter with recommendations on how to address the new laws’ impact on voters who enrolled to vote by mail prior to the November 2022 General Election, and those who wish to receive a vote-by-mail ballot for future elections.
Once SB 7050 goes into effect on July 1st, voters who prefer to vote-by-mail will encounter more obstacles and see a shortened timeline to request to have their ballot mailed to them. To assist voters in navigating all these changes, we recommend that your office:
Update the SOE website with the most current vote-by-mail requirements, and that the information, along with links to translated copies, be placed on the front page so it is readily accessible to voters.
Prominently display on the vote-by-mail section:
ID requirements to request a vote-by-mail ballot.
Information about how to request an accessible ballot.
The new deadline for requesting a ballot to be mailed to the voter.
Requirements to request and obtain a vote-by-mail ballot during the mandatory early voting period or on election day, including links to the required forms.
Post information in any language other than English, as mandated by state, local or federal law.
Ensure that the information on your website is presented in a manner that is accessible to voters requiring screen readers.
To the extent possible, we also recommend that the information outlined above is shared via mailers to all voters in your jurisdiction and that steps are taken to ensure that SOE correspondence is accessible to voters with disabilities.
SB 7050 allows SOEs to post a significant number of public notices on local government websites rather than newspapers, including information about the potential ineligibility of individual voters. This will require voters to vigilantly monitor SOE or county websites and could be an obstacle for those who lack access to technology.
We strongly recommend that your office continue to use every means at your disposal to communicate with voters, and not solely rely on a public notice posting on the website. This could include continuing the practice of posting in local newspapers and collaborating with City and Town Clerks to share information through municipal newsletters.
To ensure that voters are able to find important notices and to better enable groups, such as ours, to direct voters to your resources we ask that you establish a highly visible location on the SOE website with all election related notices including links to county and municipal webpages with notices relating to elections. We also ask that your office work with public libraries who can inform customers where to find public notices.
In order to ensure that eligible Floridians avoid being removed from the voter rolls and to ensure accessibility for voters with disabilities, we recommend allowing voters a remote option for attending a determination of eligibility hearing under F.S. 98.075.This can be set up by your office via Zoom or other similar video conferencing software. We also ask that your office work in good faith with the voter whose eligibility is under scrutiny to schedule hearings, with best effort to provide a hearing outside of traditional working hours, so that working people with rigid schedules have an equal opportunity to advocate on their own behalf.
We strongly encourage you to reach out to voters who are flagged for removal through phone and/or email where this contact information is available in the voter’s file. In addition, we recommend that address final confirmation mailings continue to be sent to all addresses that the SOE office has on file for a voter to ensure they are not wrongly removed from active status even though this is no longer mandatory.
Third-Party Voter Registration Organizations
SB 7050 will have a chilling effect on voter registration groups by exponentially raising the fines that can be imposed on these groups and arbitrarily reducing the time to deliver collected application forms. The new law also limits who community organizations can employ or recruit as volunteers for voter registration operations. Finally, it contains vague language creating new restrictions on how groups maintain voter data paired with severe new criminal penalties.
We recommend that your office actively engages with third-party voter registration organizations operating in your jurisdiction by:
Hosting SOE office meetings and tours exclusive to these organizations
Hosting trainings on your office’s procedures and on legal requirements
Providing best practices for third-party voter registration groups on the SOE website.
Additional means of outreach to voters on these and other issues should include:
Collaborating with municipal Clerks to share electoral information through their outreach tools.
Hosting or participating in events, including voter registration fairs, and outreach in schools, colleges and universities, and direct services providers such as shelters, job fairs, food banks, community centers, and more, to reach the most marginalized eligible voters
Ensuring that community events where the SOE office will conduct voter registration are listed on the SOE’s website calendar.
Posting information, possibly a request form, on the SOE website to ensure community groups know how to invite the SOE office to attend and conduct voter registration at community events.
Collaborate with Florida Licensing On Wheels (FLOW) Bus to ensure that voters are getting registered and getting the ID they need to vote.
Communications through local print, radio, and digital media outlets.
Reaching voters through SOE email lists, text lists, and social media accounts.
As we approach the 2024 election cycle, we hope we can find more ways to collaborate with your office to reach out to and educate voters.
Brad Ashwell Florida State Director All Voting is Local Mrs. Jasmine Burney-Clark Founder and Consulting Director Equal Ground Education FundMark Ferrulo Executive Director Progress FloridaAmy Keith Program Director Common Cause FloridaJeremy Armando Rodriguez Field Director Hope CommUnity CenterLaurie Woodward García Florida Voices for ProgressEli Garcia Florida Voter ID Coalition Coordinator VoteRidersJonathan Webber Florida Policy Director SPLC Action FundSoraya Marquez State Director Mi Familia Vota FloridaMarcos Vilar Executive Director Alianza for ProgressCassandra Brown Cofounder, Executive Director All About the BallotsAdora Obi Nweze President NAACP Florida State ConferenceOsvaldo Fonseca Community Engagement Manager Del AmbienteMay Thach Organizing Manager NAPAWF FloridaIsaiah Rumlin President NAACP Jacksonville Branch Rebecca Pelham Executive Director Engage MiamiJackie Colon Southeast Director NALEO Educational FundOd'Juan Whitfield Sr. Democracy Reform Organizer Faith In Public LifeState Voices Florida Juanica Fernandes Executive DirectorHarold Ford President NAACP South Dade BranchMaruxa Cardenas Co-Director La Mesa Boricua de FloridaAbdelilah Skhir Voting Rights Policy Strategist American Civil Liberties Union of FloridaNatasha Sutherland Deputy Director Florida WatchRyan Snow Counsel, Voting Rights Project Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under LawRosemary McCoy CEO Harriet Tubman Freedom FightersKimberly A. Allen, Ph.D. Chief Executive Officer 904WARD