Hallandale Beach— During a community meeting organized by State Senator Shevrin Jones (D) to discuss the controversial HB 1 and SB 90 voter integrity bill recently signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis, Broward County Supervisor of Elections Joe Scott questioned the law's limiting of the amount of returned ballots any individual was allowed to have in his or her possession at any time and confirmed that ballot harvesting has been a common practice in some communities.
When The Floridian asked Supervisor Scott what his office was doing to prevent ballot harvesting in the county, Scott responded by saying, “SB 90 requires us to staff the drop boxes, so we will staff the drop boxes.”
Scott then went on to explain to the room of attendees that what we were referring to was the practice of individuals “being paid to go around and collect ballots and then drop them off,” adding that the practice does not occur in Broward County and that there were “zero complaints filed” about ballot harvesting in the county.
Scott rightly stated that according to the law, an individual was only allowed to possess his or her ballot and the ballots of family members, as well as the ballots of two other people at any given time.
Here is the text of the law:
“Revising the definition of “immediate family”; prohibiting any person from distributing, ordering, requesting, collecting, delivering, or otherwise physically possessing more than two vote-by-mail ballots of other electors per election, not including immediate family members; providing exceptions; providing a penalty; providing an effective date.
But while Scott says that ballot harvesting does not occur, the first term supervisor acknowledged that in past elections, “communities would get together and work together to go around and collect everybody's ballots”
“I feel like what SB 90 did was, SB-90 made a lot these things more difficult, whereas communities would get together and work together to go around and collect everybody's ballots, SD90 made so that in some cases you could be you could potentially be breaking the law by doing that," said Scott.
Scott then said that his office would be opening more ballot drop-off locations to make it easier for people to vote, and so that individuals that normally go out and collect ballots can instead point voters to the different voting options his office is offering.
“We just need to make the, if we make the drop boxes more available, in more places, we make the mail more trusted, and you guys instead of going out there and actually collected ballots and bringing them, you can coach your neighbors talk to your neighbors and make sure they know all the options,” continued Scott.
Then Scott, who is considered by some Democrats as being a Progressive Democrat, expressed his frustration over the “immediate family” ballot limitations measure written in the law
"It's such a ridiculous bill, but they really define who you can bring a ballot back for that has to do with immediate family members right? Now a lot of us are...” said Scott. “I have, I have brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles that are not related to me by blood or marriage, right? So you are going to try to tell me who's my family and who's not, I'm going to have a problem with you. Your immediate family members and you can have two more, yourself your immediate family, plus two more ballots in your possession at any time. That’s how its written.”
How the law is written, any one individual can go collect two ballots from neighbors every day and drop them off at DropBox or can go around and collect as many ballots as he or she can and only drop off two per day, as permitted by the law.
Senator Gary Farmer also took issue with the measure, questioning the two-ballot per person restriction.
“Why is it OK that you can drop anything in a mailbox, but you can't drop more than two other peoples ballots in a dropbox,” asked Sen. Farmer before suggesting that ballots should just be automatically mailed to all voters regardless of whether they ask for an Absentee Ballot
“Why don't we all get a ballot sent in the mail automatically? Why do you even have to do a request form,” concluded Farmer.
Last year, Florida Republicans won a legal challenge to ban ballot harvesting in Broward and the rest of the state.