Timely Issues in Florida Election Law: Topic 1- Voter Challenges
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 first in the series will address challenges to a person’s eligibility to vote.
Voter Challenges (F.S. 101.111, 101.048(2)(a), 101.657(4)(b) )
Given the present uncertainty regarding the presence of non-citizens on the voter rolls, we could experience a significant number of challenges being made to a person’s eligibility to vote. Any voter or poll watcher with sufficient basis can challenge the right of any other voter to cast a ballot. Anyone wishing to challenge a voter at the polling place during early voting or on election day must submit an affidavit to the precinct clerk or inspector outlining the basis for the challenge prior to the casting of the challenged vote. Alternatively, the challenge can be made by delivering the affidavit to the supervisor of elections office no sooner than 30 days prior to the election. The challenged voter will be permitted to vote by provisional ballot. The procedure for the determination of these challenges is outlined in the statutes and under most circumstances the local canvassing board will determine the validity of the challenge. Anyone filing a frivolous challenge of any person’s right to vote commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable by up to one year imprisonment.
See Topic 2 – Provisional Ballots. Topic 3 – Challenges to Absentee Ballot Certificate.
Topic 4 _ Recounts. Topic 5 – Election Contests.
About Thomas D. Shults, Esq.
Tom Shults is a Florida Bar Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer. He has represented clients in election and sunshine law issues, complex business and commercial disputes and probate and trust suits. He was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1983 and has maintained an active trial practice in state and federal courts for over 35 years.
Mr. Shults successfully represented the Sarasota Alliance for Fair Elections in Sarasota Alliance for Fair Elections et al. v. Browning et al. , where the Florida Supreme Court ruled on the constitutionality of Sarasota County’s charter election law amendments.
Mr. Shults has served on the Professional Ethics Committee of The Florida Bar and is the past Chairman of the Code and Rules of Evidence Committee of The Florida Bar. He is a recipient of the Distinguished Community Service Award of the Sarasota County Bar Association for his work with the Sarasota Mental Health Community Centers. In 2013 he was nominated for circuit court judge by the 12th Circuit Judicial Nominating Committee.
Mr. Shults has served on the faculty of the Kessler-Eidson Program for Trial Techniques at Emory University School of Law and on the faculty of the National Institute for Trial Advocacy Program for Practicing Lawyers at Nova Southeastern University School of Law.
Mr. Shults grew up in St. Petersburg, Florida and is a graduate of St. Petersburg High School (1973), Florida State University (B.S. 1977) and Washburn University School of Law (J.D. cum laude 1982). He is veteran of the United States Army.
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