Primary Elections: New Florida Laws Have Made Some Changes You Need To Know

By Hallandale Beach Mayor, Joy Cooper

August 4, 2022

Since I was eighteen years old and able to vote I have been involved in the election process. I was born in Trenton, New Jersey and raised across the Delaware in Levittown, Pennsylvania. My parents were always involved with local and state politics. Raising six children they always lobbied for school issues. They even tried to make Levittown its own City. My Dad worked as the Chief Chemist for the State of New Jersey and was always involved in Jersey politics too. I joke that I always had one foot on each side of the Delaware.

My mom was elected as the Judge of elections. At that time there were toggle voting machines. The toggle eliminated paper ballots. A voter would be checked in and then go to one of the voting machines. A large lever was pulled to shut the curtain and set the machine. The smaller toggles were released. The voter could move them to cast a vote for their candidates. After they made their choice, the person would move the large toggle back to open the curtain and lock in their votes. One vote, one person. At the end of election day, the Judge was to record the votes on each machine and report them out. The machines were locked and transported back to the main supervisor’s warehouse.

Back then we only voted on one day. Polls were at the local schools and all kids had that day off. People who still worked could vote after work until 7:00 p.m. People that could not drive typically were driven to the polls if they were lucky. Access was difficult for seniors and those with disabilities.
Those times have changed. I know in Philadelphia there was a scandal where machines were stolen. There are now different types of machines. Here we have electronic voting in Florida but have paper back-ups. Our paper push pin ballot with machine readers was changed. After the close race between Gore and Bush when there was the “Chad” scandal.

Today we have early voting and mail in ballots. The new Florida Law has made some changes. Everyone used to be able to opt in to automatically receive a ballot in the mail. If you already requested a mail ballot, the new Florida Law will not be in effect until after the 2022 Election Cycle. After this Election, they must be requested every year. In addition, you must submit a DL, State ID, or a Social Security Number.

There is also a change for drop boxes and the times of drop off. If you want to mail in your ballot, you can but if you are concerned about it getting in on time you used to be able to use a drop box. Now all drop boxes must be supervised by an employee of the supervisor at early voting sites and at the polls. There are no more free-standing drop boxes allowed. They also changed the ability for poll watchers to challenge votes and are allowed to watch all voters checking in and while they are voting. They used to be there to observe, help if asked or simply make sure people were not turned away.

Early voting was established in 2002 in Florida. Supervisors can set the times of early voting, but it must be at least 10 days before Election Day and end no earlier than the third day before Election Day. Supervisors can start as early as the 15th day before Election Day and allow it until the second day before Election Day. There has been a debate about our County reducing the days from 14 to 10. Also, early voting can be 12 hours but no less than 8. With the ability to mail in ballots and early voting in my opinion 10 days is ample. Early voting costs everyone more money!

The Broward County Supervisor of Elections Budget is $23,163,400 for 2022. Next year they asked for a $10-Million-Dollar increase. The super majority of expenses are for staffing. When we have our City Elections it costs approximately $20,000 Dollars. I was shocked to see that while the costs are going up, the polling sites have been drastically reduced.

Last month we found out that our City was still going to have an early voting site but only going to have two polling sites. We used to have sixteen then it was eight. We noticed that the only two sites in the City would be on Three Islands and our Cultural Center. After hearing that there would be no sites in our western side of the City, our Clerk reached out to the supervisor. The polling site at Foster Park was reinstated.

It is especially important to make sure you understand that with less sites there will be more lines. The deadline to request a VBM ballot is Sunday, August 13th, 2022 for the 23rd Primary Election. No requests will be accepted after 5:00 p.m. on the 13th. You can request VBM for Tuesday, November 8th, 2022. If you are not registered to vote now, it is too late for the primary. To vote on Tuesday, November 8th, 2022, you must be registered by Sunday, October 9th, 2022. You can find out how to register at: www.BrowardVotes.gov Or call: (954) 357-VOTE(8683).

As always, feel free to contact me anytime with your questions, concerns and ideas on how to make our City a great place to live, work and play! I am available by phone or text at: (954) 632-5700. E-mail me at: jcooper@cohb.org. Or visit my Facebook & Web-Site at: http://www.mayorjoycooper.com/