Q&A of the Day – Does Florida’s Redistricting Impact Voter Registration?
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Today’s entry: Submitted via Talkback
Bottom Line: Hearing this is concerning because Florida’s redistricting has no bearing on your ability to register to vote or to reregister to vote under a different party. We’ve heard of a smattering of shenanigans with 3rd party voter registration groups already this year, though the most prominent involved about a hundred seniors registered as Democrats in Miami-Dade who allege they were tricked into reregistering as Republicans. I’ll breakdown the law, your rights and what you should do to check your status.
Florida’s law on voter registration is clear. It states, as is posted on the voter registration website: The deadline to register for an upcoming election is 29 days before that election. You can also update your registration record at any time. However, since Florida is a closed primary election state, a party change for a primary election must be made by the registration deadline for that election. If the deadline has passed, you can still submit an online application at any time and it will be processed for future elections.
The key word relative to voter registration is “anytime”. If you’re eligible to register to vote in Florida, there’s literally never a time you can’t register or register. As is mentioned, even if you miss deadlines to participate in a given election cycle your status will be automatically applied to subsequent elections. Additionally, the state provides detailed monthly voter registration changes which reflect what’s happened in each county during each month. As for who is eligible to register? Here are the requirements:
- Be a citizen of the United States of America;
- Be a legal resident of Florida;
- Be a legal resident of the county in which you seek to be registered;
- Be at least 16 years old to preregister or at least 18 years old to register and vote;
- Not be a person who has been adjudicated mentally incapacitated with respect to voting in Florida or any other state without having the right to vote restored; and,
- Not be a person convicted of a felony without having your right to vote restored.
Provided you meet those qualifications your application must be processed under state law. Redistricting has no bearing on registration for these reasons. All voter registrations are directly processed with the state of Florida and administered locally through your county’s Supervisor of Elections. Those are static, regardless as to if your state house, state senate and/or congressional district changes through the redistricting process. Once new districts are settled (which has already occurred for the state legislative districts), Supervisors of Elections adjust automatically based on one’s voter registration address. So simply put, the situation you described isn’t legitimate and is concerning.
There was one dynamic in play this weekend, it just so happened the state’s voter registration website was down for maintenance as they explained: The online registration system, RegistertoVoteFlorida.gov, will be unavailable for electronic submissions from Friday, May 20, 2022, 7 PM (Eastern Time) until Monday, May 23, 2022, 8 AM (Eastern Time). This is due to scheduled maintenance by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles on several of their databases. One of those databases is used to verify identity on electronic submissions of voter registration. Given that you sent your message prior to the site maintenance this doesn’t seem to be the cause of the issue you’ve cited. This takes me to next steps and best practices for voter registration and reregistration.
Florida’s voter registration website has a section called Voter Registration Lookup. If you go to it, you’ll be asked for your first and last name, date of birth and you’ll click a box stating you’re “not a robot”. It only takes a few seconds to do and you’ll see your status, including party of registration if you’re already registered to vote. For you and anyone with questions about voter registration status you should start with this process. If it reflects you being an active voter with your preferred political party – you're all set. If not, you should then, on the same site, go to the Florida Online Voter Registration System. There you can register to vote and change your status as preferred.
I highly recommend anyone who has been registered to vote by any third party do this. Further, the best practice for voter registration is always direct as I’d described. This eliminates a potential point of failure along with the potential for shenanigans with third parties. In the event you find issues, such as not being registered and/or according to your political party of choice, you should contact your county elections supervisor and notify the Secretary of State’s office as well.
The good news in your situation, by addressing this now, is that there’s plenty of time to make sure your voter registration status is correct for this cycle. The first registration deadline is July 25th, for the August primaries. Hopefully this is helpful and if there does turn out to be more to the story that you uncover, please let me know. I’ll be happy to follow-up.