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.