The mission of the director’s office is to provide statewide coordination and direction for the interpretation and enforcement of election laws, as required by the Florida Statutes, and to provide supervision to the Bureaus in the division.
The Florida Election Code, Chapters 97 through 106, Florida Statutes, regulates all state and county elections. Portions of the election code also pertain to municipalities and special districts in the state and to federal elections. Elections are conducted in Florida almost every week of the year by county supervisors of elections or city clerks. Major state and county elections are held in even-numbered years. The Governor calls special elections in circumstances necessary to fill vacancies created by deaths, resignations, etc. Many county referendum elections, special district elections and city elections are held in odd-numbered years. Therefore, on a daily basis, the staff in the director’s office provides election-related assistance to the 67 supervisors of elections and their staff, municipalities, special districts, county and city attorneys, candidates, political committees, committees of continuous existence, elected officials, the media, the public and other election officials throughout the United States.
- Oversees the interpretation and guidance on the enforcement of election laws.
- Provides advisory opinions to supervisors of elections, candidates, local officers having election-related duties, political parties, political committees, committees of continuous existence or other persons or organizations engaged in political activities.
- Prescribes rules and regulations to carry out the provisions of the election laws.
- Acts as the Secretary of State’s designee with respect to:
- Interpreting the election laws.
- Providing uniform standards for the proper and equitable implementation of the voter registration laws.
- Actively seeking out and collecting data and statistics necessary to knowledgeably scrutinize the effectiveness of the election laws by surveying supervisors of elections and others on issues that arise on a daily basis.
- Providing technical assistance to the supervisors of elections on voter education and election personnel training services.
- Providing technical assistance to the supervisors of elections on voting systems.
- Coordinating with the United States Department of Defense so that armed forces recruitment officers can administer voter registration in a manner consistent with the procedures set forth in the election laws for voter registration agencies.
- Providing voter education assistance to the public.
- Coordinating the state’s responsibilities under the National Voter Registration Act of 1993.
- Providing training to all affected state agencies on the necessary procedures for proper implementation of the Florida Voter Registration Act.
- Ensuring that all registration applications and forms prescribed, or approved, are in compliance with the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
- Oversees the process by which citizens propose constitutional amendments by initiative and publicly notices constitutional amendments.
- Prescribes forms as required by Chapter 106, Florida Statutes, and publishes manuals to assist candidates and committees with bookkeeping and reporting requirements.
- Oversees and approves training courses for continuing education for supervisors of elections.
- Coordinates, on an annual basis, two statewide workshops for the supervisors of elections in which the division reviews and provides updates on the election laws to ensure statewide uniformity in the interpretation of the election laws.
- Conducts regional workshops around the state for supervisors of elections, candidates, political committees, committees of continuous existence, political parties and groups having an election-related interest.
- Oversees the entire budget process and expenditures for the Division of Elections.
- Makes recommendations to the Legislature for changes in the statutes relating to elections and provides fiscal analyses to the Legislature on proposed election-related bills.
- Maintains a voter fraud hotline and provides election fraud education to the public.
In October 2002, Congress passed and President Bush signed into law the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA). HAVA was required to be implemented by all states and funding was provided by Congress.
Prior to passage of HAVA, Florida had already made great strides in improving its electoral process with the passage of the Election Reform Act of 2001 and the Voter Accessibility Act of 2002. As a result, Florida was already in compliance with several of the requirements of HAVA such as provisional voting and the replacement of punch card and lever voting machines.
Although there are many provisions, one of the major provisions of HAVA required each state, acting through the chief state election official, to “implement in a uniform and nondiscriminatory manner, a single, uniform, centralized, interactive computerized statewide voter registration list defined, maintained, and administered at the state level.” The federal deadline for completing and implementing the system was January 1, 2006. The Department of State met the federal deadline implementation of this system by designing and developing the Florida Voter Registration System (FVRS).
Another provision of HAVA requires at least one disability compliant voting system for each polling place in the state. All Florida counties were fully compliant with this provision as of January 1, 2006.