Integrity Florida is today releasing a new in-depth report examining election integrity in Florida. The report, titled VBM: A Safe Option for Florida Voters – The Implications in a Battleground State, provides an analysis of the 2018 Florida election and new legislation adopted in 2019. It also examines existing research into the reliability of voting by mail.
“When it comes to the integrity of an election, perception is everything,” said Ben Wilcox, Research Director with Integrity Florida. “That’s especially true in Florida where close elections and post-election meltdowns are the norm rather than the exception. It’s critical that voters have confidence that the election results are accurate and that all legitimate votes were counted.”
The report finds that the 2018 election was one of the closest in Florida history with three statewide races undergoing recounts and historic voter turnout for a midterm election. The most severe election problems in 2018 were confined to two Florida counties – Broward and Palm Beach, leading to allegations of voter fraud and misconduct by elections officials. Since 2018, both counties and the Florida legislature have worked to address the problems including improvements to Florida’s vote-by-mail (VBM) system
The report finds that mail ballots increasingly are being used as the primary method of voting in the states and may well be the future of elections in this country. Five states currently conduct all elections by mail – Oregon, Utah, Washington, Colorado and Hawaii. Of all states, 29 are “no-excuse” states (including Florida), where voters can vote-by-mail for any reason. Sixteen are “excuse-only” states, where voters must specify a reason why they cannot go to the polls.
President Trump’s recent attacks on mail voting may lead to some voters distrusting mail ballots, possibly resulting in decreased turnout. The report finds virtually every credible source refutes Trump’s warnings about widespread voter fraud. Mail balloting may be slightly more susceptible to fraud than in-person voting, but in any case, existing research shows voter fraud is “exceedingly rare.”
“Contrary to some allegations, there is no credible evidence that voting by mail leads to fraud,” said Alan Stonecipher, Integrity Florida Research Associate. “In addition, no credible evidence exists that vote-by-mail benefits any political party.”
The report includes five case studies examining the states that use universal vote-by-mail. It found little evidence of fraud, few problems have been reported and vote-by-mail is popular with the voters.
The Integrity Florida report offers a series of policy options for consideration:
Policy Options to Consider Include:
- Florida should consider following the lead of five other states and conduct universal vote-by-mail elections while still maintaining the option of limited in-person voting.
- If it does move to primarily vote-by-mail, the state should consider pre-paying the postage for ballot return to increase voter turnout.
- Whether it moves to universal vote-by-mail or not, Florida should consider a biannual voter education program.
- If Florida does not move to vote-by-mail elections, it should consider giving counties that option for local elections.
- Florida should consider giving Supervisors of Election more flexibility over early voting and polling place locations.
About Integrity Florida
Integrity Florida is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research institute and government watchdog whose mission is to promote integrity in government and expose public corruption. To learn more about Integrity Florida, please visit https://www.integrityflorida.org or @IntegrityFL.