Timely Issues in Florida Election Law: Topic 3 – Challenges to Absentee Ballot Certificate

Given the projections for a close presidential race, Florida election law could once again take center stage in the days leading up to and following the election. With that possibility in mind, I will summarize in a series several legal issues that may come into play in November. This third in the series will address challenges to an  Absentee Ballot  Certificate  .

Challenges to Absentee Ballot Certificate  (F.S. 101.68)

More and more people are taking advantage of the convenience of voting by mail with an absentee ballot.  This method, however, presents the opportunity for voter fraud by those who might use the identity of others to cast a ballot.  To partially guard against this, the outside of an absentee ballot envelope must contain a statutorily mandated statement called a voter certificate.  The voter certificate must be signed by the voter with a signature which matches the signature on file at the supervisor of election’s office.  The Election Code requires that challenges based upon a defect in the voter’s certificate, including authenticity of the signature, be made before the ballot is removed from the envelope.  The challenge must be filed with the local canvassing board and specify the precinct, the ballot, and the reason why the challenger believes the ballot to be illegal. A challenge based upon a defect in the voter’s certificate cannot be accepted after the ballot has been removed from the mailing envelope.  Timeliness is key to maintaining this type of challenge.

See Topic 1 – Voter ChallengesTopic 2 – Provisional BallotsTopic 4 – Recounts. Topic 5 – Election Contests.

Thomas D. Shults, Esq.

About Thomas D. Shults, Esq.

Tom Shults is a partner in the law firm of Kirk-Pinkerton P.A. He represents clients in a range of matters including election law issues,complex business and commercial disputes and probate and trust suits. Mr. Shults is a Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer. Board certification is the highest level of evaluation by The Florida Bar of competency and experience within a specific area of law. Mr. Shults also holds the highest peer rating possible (AV) from the independent attorney rating agency, Martindale Hubbell. He was recently appointed chair of the Code and Rules of Evidence Committee of the Florida Bar and is a recipient of the Distinguished Community Service Award of the Sarasota County Bar Association. He is an Army veteran and was admitted to the Bar in 1983.
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