Florida Department of State 2009 National Voter Registration Act Training Workshop for Offices Issuing Driver’s Licenses Services (DHSMV Examiner’s Offices and Tax Collectors’ Offices) Final Version Kurt S. Browning Secretary of State Donald Palmer Director, Division of Elections Presented by: Maria Matthews, Assistant General Counsel and Peggy Taff, Chief, Bureau of Voter Registration Services
Training Overview • History of the NVRA • Purposes • Statutory Responsibilities • General Procedures • Points to Remember • Election Year 2010-Key Dates • Communication • Conclusion-Questions/Evaluation
Question 1 • What year was NVRA enacted? • 1965 • 1993 • 1984 • 2002 Answer: B. NVRA became effective in 1995. Its objective was to facilitate voter registration. The Voting Rights Act was enacted in 1965. Its objective was to eliminate discriminatory qualifications or prerequisites to voting, practice, or procedure based on race or color. The Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and the Handicapped was enacted in 1984. Its objectives was to require that polling places across the United States be physically accessible to person with disabilities for federal elections. The Help America Vote Act was enacted in 2002. Its objective was to improve the administration of federal elections including replacing outdated voting systems, creating statewide voter registration databases and providing for provisional ballot voting. .
Question 2 • Which one of these entities is NOT a designated voter registration agency under state or federal law? • An office that offers public assistance • A military recruitment office • The clerk of circuit court office • A center for independent living • An office that issues driver’s licenses. • Public Library • Answer: C
Question 3 • What is the youngest age that someone can pre-register to vote? • 16 years old • 17 years old • 15 years old • None of the above Answer: A In January 2009, the law changed to allow 16 year olds to pre-register. See s. 2, chapter 2008-95, Laws of Florida. They cannot legally vote until they turn 18 on Election Day in the upcoming election.
Question 4 • If someone says “please register me as an ‘independent’, which of the following should be entered in the political party field? • Independence Party of Florida • No party affiliation • Independent Party of Florida • Independent Democrats of Florida • None of the above • Answer: E. Ask for clarification. It is not clear which political party or whether the person wants to register without party affiliation.
Question 5 • A parent or guardian has to co-approve or co-sign a registration application for a 16 year old pre-registrant. • True • False • Answer: False. Although state law requires parental or guardian approval for a 16 year old to obtain his/her a driver’s license permit, state law does not require co-approval or co-signature for someone to pre-register to vote. See s. 97.041, F.S. The right to pre-register lies exclusively with the 16 year old or older. It is his or her original signature that should be on the application.
Question 6 • What should you do if a paper application is hand-delivered or mailed to your office? • Reject it. • Accept it, file it away. • Direct the person the supervisor of elections’ office. • Accept it. Answer: D. Do not reject or file it away. Accept it even if it is incomplete or filled out somewhere else. You serve as a pass-through. Stamp the date of receipt on the application (this will become the registration date). Enclose it an agency envelope or courier bag clearly marked with your agency name and location. Forward it to the local supervisor of elections no later than 5 days of receipt.
Question 7 • Why does your office have to record a declination or decision by an eligible registrant not to register? • NVRA and State law require you to do so. • This data is tracked and collected as part of NVRA program evaluation and becomes part of a Congressional report by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. • All of the above. • A & B. Answer: C or D, trick answers.
Question 8 • A person who moves from one Florida county to your county and applies for services at your office and asks to register to vote has to re-register as a new voter. • True • False Answer: False. Since2006, such person only has to submit a change of address update. This is possible because of the Help America Vote Act. Each state must have one voter registration system (Florida’s system is called the Florida Voter Registration System) instead of 67 independent county registration systems. A person can submit the address change to any county supervisor of elections, the Division of Elections, DHSMV or other office issuing driver’s licenses, or any voter registration agency.
Question 9 • A driver’s license examiner’s office or tax collector’s office determines eligibility on those persons who submit registration application information. • True • False Answer: False. Only the Supervisor of Elections determines ultimately whether someone is eligible to register and continues to be eligible as a registered voter. Although through your electronic intake process which precludes offering voter registration opportunities who acknowledges during the driver’s license portion that he or she is not a U.S. citizen or has had his or her voting rights removed by court order of mental incapacity, you implicitly screen out such persons.
Question 10 • Florida is a ‘closed primary election’ state. Does that mean . . .? • You can not vote for partisan races in a primary election unless you are registered with the candidate nominee’s political party. • You can vote on non-partisan office races or issue (referendum, constitutional amendment) contests, regardless of whether you registered with a political party or no political party. • You can vote even if all the candidate nominees in a contest belong to the same party and the winner would face no opposition in the General Election (known as the Universal Primary). • All of the above. Answer: D
Question 11 • A registered voter has to submit an update to his or her registration record (address, name, signature or political party change) by the deadline for registration for an upcoming election. • True • False Answer: B. A person can change his or her name, address, or political party at any time even after book closing for an upcoming election. A person can even change his or her name or address at the polls before voting. There is one exception. A person can not change his or her political party for an upcoming PRIMARY election after the registration deadline (also known as ‘bookclosing’). Bookclosing in Florida is 29 days before an election.
Question 12 • A person’s political party affiliation in voter registration record confidential and exempt from public disclosure. • True • False Answer: B- False. Florida voter registration records are public records since at least 1913. Before 2006, they could not be copied except by certain governmental or political persons or entities. After January 2006, the only confidential and exempt information as to an applicant or registered voter is: 1. Information as to whether a person declined to register or update his/her registration record, 2. The location where a person registered or updated his/her record, 3. A person’s social security number, Florida driver's license number, and Florida state ID card number. 4. A signature on any voting or voter registration related document can be inspected but not copied. (See s. 97.0585, Fla. Stat.)
Question 13 • When can a person apply to register for the first time? Answer: Registration is year round. However, in order to vote in an upcoming election, the person must be registered or submit a complete application by the registration deadline. The registration deadline is 29 days before an election. (s. 97.055, F.S.)
History-National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) 42 U.S.C. 1973gg Congress enacted in 1993 in response to declining years of voter turnout and discriminatory and inconsistent voter registration practices • Required simultaneous voter registration services to offered with services obtained for new or renewing driver’s licenses (also known as the Motor Voter law part) • Designated certain governmental offices as voter registration agencies • Mandated the creation of a mail-in application
Federal law requirements:State adoption-NVRA • Most states adopt NVRA implementing law by 1995. • Florida enacts Florida Voter Registration Act “FVRA” (ss. 97.057,97.058, Florida Statutes) in January 1995 to implement the NVRA requirements. • Section 97.057, Florida Statutes specifically sets out voter registration requirements that apply to offices that provide driver’s license services.
Federal law requirements: Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) (PL 107-252; 42 U.S.C. 15301 et seq.) • Builds on the requirements in NVRA (1993) and the Voting Rights Act (1965) including streamlining registration processes • Required each state to have just 1 statewide voter registration systems • Provided for voting by provisional ballot • Replaced outdated voting systems
Federal law requirements:State adoption-HAVA • Creation of computerized interactive statewide voter registration system (January 2006- also known as Florida Voter Registration System –FVRS). • Interfaces with 67 previously independent non-communicating county registration systems • Makes it harder for person to register or vote in more than one county. • Allows a person greater flexibility to register from anywhere in the state and to any one of the following locations: any office issuing driver’s licenses, any voter registration agency, any supervisor of elections’ office or the Division of Elections. A registered voter moving between Florida counties only has to update his or her address, even at the polls.
Federal law requirements-State adoption-HAVA • Electronic intake voter registration process. DOS and DHSMV worked before 2006 to convert from paper intake to electronic registration intake as the primary (not exclusive) registration process at examiners/tax collectors offices. Other voter registration agencies not yet fully developed. • Creation of the Bureau of Voter Registration Services (BVRS). BVRS serves as the support unit at the Division of Elections in the Department of State for voter registration.
One of NVRA’s Primary Purposes: To make it easier and more convenient for persons to register to vote: • By increasing the number of locations, other than Supervisor of Elections’ offices, where eligible citizens can apply for or update voter registration information (42 U.S.C. 1973gg-3) • By requiring the creation of a national mail-in voter registration application (42 U.S.C. 1973gg-4)
Statutory Requirements: What must you do? 1. Each time someone comes in . . . • To get a new driver’s license, • To renew his or her driver’s license • To change his or her residential address a. Ask the person orally (or in writing, if the person is hearing impaired) ‘Do you want to apply to register to vote (in Florida) or if already registered, do you want to update your (Florida) voter registration record?’
Statutory Requirements:What must you do? • b. Let the person know orally (or in writing) that: • With just a few more questions, you can use information already gathered as part of the driver’s license service to start a new registration application or update a current registration record that will be sent to the Supervisor of Elections for processing. • You will keep the person’s decision or preference not to register or update a record confidential and only use it for voter registration purposes. • Information as to where the person applied will also be kept confidential and can only be used for voter registration purposes.
Statutory Requirements:What must you do? • Include a voter registration application with every driver’s license renewal extension application (s. 97.057(5), Fla. Stat.) that you receive. • Treat every change of residential address the person makes as a request to change it also on his or her voter registration records UNLESS the person indicates otherwise verbally or in writing. (42 U.S.C.1973gg-3(d)) [This will eventually include residential address changes submitted online.]
General Procedures: To whom do you offer voter registration services? • Anyone who is 18 years old applying for new or renewing driver’s license services or updating address on driver’s license record (assuming person is otherwise eligible) or • Any 16 year old or older can apply to pre-register
Special Class of Applicants: Pre-registrants • 16 year olds or older can pre-register (effective January 2009; see s. 2, chapter 2008-95, Laws of Florida, amending s. 97.041, F.S. (before it was 15 year olds with driver’s permits)) • Pre-register to vote means the person is on the registration rolls but cannot vote until he or she turns 18 on Election Day. Registration system automatically converts to full-fledged voter on registrant’s birthday. • Parental or guardian co-approval or co-signature is not required to pre-register to vote. Statutory right belongs to pre-registrant. • If the electronic intake system does not allow you to input voter registration information on such applicant, offer the person a paper application to complete and assist him or her in completing the application.
Special Class of Applicants: Address Confidentiality Program Participants • Victims of domestic violence. Entitled to address confidentiality in their voter registration records. Identified by telling you outright or if they provide you with the address of ____ Truman Avenue, Tallahassee, Florida (fictitious address provided by the Attorney General in Address Confidentiality Program (ACP)) • Special registration process applies. Do not intake or accept their voter registration information/application. Refer these persons immediately to the county supervisor of elections for registration. Their voter registration information is never stored in FVRS. • If they are not already a participant in the Attorney General’s ACP, they must register with program first (subject to 4-year renewal). (Address: AG’s ACP, The Capitol PL-01, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-1050, Toll Free 1-800-226-6667). They will get a substitute mailing address for voter registration and voting. They can only vote by absentee ballot.
Special Class of Applicants: High-risk professional class • Who are they? Judges, state attorneys, guardians ad litem, child abuse investigators, law enforcement officers, correction officers, firefighters, human resource personnel, etc. including their spouses and children. • Why? The Florida Legislature identified certain professionals who are at safety-risk due to day-to-day decisions made in course of their professions. • What is protected?Residential address, phone number, photos, etc. may be exempted from public disclosure. See section 119.071(4)(d), Fla. Stat. • When does it apply?ONLY AFTER written request is submitted. A customer is still required to submit residential address for proper voting precinct assignment. The request for the exemption must be directed to each agency that has a record with the person’s address. • How is it applied?The agency custodian is responsible for ensuring that the residential address and other protected information in the public record are redacted and not released in a subsequent public records request.
General Procedures: What if someone does not want to update a record or register to voter? • Accept person’s choice. The person has the right to refuse at any time before or during the registration process. He/she may decline by saying so or by failing to complete the process or giving his or her signature ( The latter is less likely since you capture the signature electronically at the beginning of the driver’s license portion. • If person changes mind mid-process, stop electronic intake and record declination. • Keep a record of the declination for minimum two years (audit records).
Points to Remember: Purpose for keeping a record of declinations • Compliance. Serves as a record that you are complying with your agency’s registration duties under NVRA and state law. • Program evaluation. Providing supporting documention for report to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission who in turn reports bi-ennially to Congress about how effectively is NVRA working (i.e., if and how people are offered and taking advantage of the opportunities under NVRA.)
General Procedures: What to do when someone says ‘I want register or update my record.’ • Do not ask for the same information twice (federal/state law objective-make it easier for people to want to register or update their records (current DHSMV electronic process re-enters address twice)) • Seek clarification from person: ‘Are you already registered in Florida and want to update your record or are you applying for the first time? • Explain fields as necessary or requested. You are the ‘living’ application form. (Prior to 2006, the person could read the paper application with all the information at the top: eligibility, book closing, registration with a political party, right to confidentiality, and closed primary election concept.) • Keep person informed. If you have to stop and/or restart the driver’s license part for whatever reason, let the person that also means the voter registration part has to start over.
Points to Remember: Required fields on a Florida Voter Registration Application (Refer to DS-DE #39, R1S2-.040) • Name (first and last name)[Field 7] • Date of Birth (Month, day and year) [Field 5] • Personal identifying number [Field 6] • Florida Driver’s License Number • Florida State Identification Card Number, or • Last 4 digits of social security number. • If the person has not been issued any of these numbers, he or she has to write in “None” or check none. • Residential Address [Field 8]
Points to Remember: Required fields on a Florida Voter Registration Application (Refer to DS-DE #39, R1S2-.040) • ‘Check the boxes’ [Fields 2, 3, 4] • U.S. Citizen • Permanent legal resident is not a U.S. Citizen • Convicted felon • Civil rights must be restored before registering or voting • Adjudicated mentally incapacitated with voting rights removed. • Voting rights must be restored before registering or voting. • Not all persons who have been declared mentally incapacitated lose their right to vote. For example, the criminally insane can still register and vote by absentee (s. 916.107(7), F.S.)
Points to Remember: Required fields on a Florida Voter Registration Application (cont’d) (Refer to DS-DE #39, R1S2-.040) • Signature [Field 16] • An original signature must be on the application and affirms the oath. • A person may sign with an “X” if person has difficulty writing or has physical disability limiting his/her ability to execute ‘traditional’ signature. • A guardian, parent or person acting through power of attorney cannot sign or register for another person.
Points to Remember: Optional fields on a Florida Voter Registration Application (Refer to DS-DE #39, R1S-2.040, FAC) • Phone number [Field 11] • Former name [Field 11] • Former address [Field 10] • Gender [Field 14] • Race/ethnicity [Field 13] • State or country of birth [Field 14] • Political party affiliation [Field #12] • All other non-required fields (assistance at polls, pollworker volunteer, etc.) A person can leave these fields blank or otherwise refuse to answer. However, most of this information is used to help with registration or voting. For example, it may help to identify a duplicate registration record, to contact someone about his or her application or registration record, to get help for a disability at the polls, or to determine whether the person can vote in a primary election.
General Procedures: Electronic intake-Name and Date of Birth • Enter name and date of birth accurately and in proper order. • Misspelled or incorrectly entered name or birth may • Create duplicate registration record because voter registration official relies on spelling of first, middle and last name and date of birth as match criteria to prior records. (for example, Kathy versus Cathy, Gomploanos versus Jomploanos) • Make it difficult to locate the person’s name on a precinct register or electronic poll-book at polls. Person may have to vote provisional ballot in lieu of regular ballot because record can not be found. • Date of birth. Enter in order of MONTH, DAY AND YEAR. In some foreign countries, the day is listed or stated first and then followed by the month.
General Procedures: Electronic intake-Address • Enter residential address as correctly a possible. • No statutory definition for residence. Construed to be physical presence at address person mentally intends to make as his or her permanent residence. • P.O. Box or business address can not be used as residential address • Address of homeless person. Available addresses include the address of the place where he or she regularly receives mail, a general delivery address at a post office, a church address who agrees to accept mail on the person’s behalf, or address of a shelter that the person frequents. • Mobile home (boat, recreational motor home). Available address is where a person docks his/her residential riverboat or houseboat or motor home and/or and receives mail regularly.
General Procedures: Electronic Intake-Address (cont’d) Input data into proper separate address segment fields, i.e., street number, suffix, street name, street type, post direction, unit type, and unit number. Do not fit address all into one field.
General Procedures: Electronic Intake-Address (cont’d) • If DHSMV’s street validation program prompts you with message that address is invalid or not recognized, • Review for obvious administrative input errors (e.g., inverted or omitted letters, transposed or omitted numbers.) • Ask person to verify information he or she provided to you. • Avoid using abbreviations in street names whenever possible (for example, if street name is Tennessee, do not abbreviate to Tenn.) • Do not leave out numbered street suffixes. For example, enter as 22nd instead of 22, 5th instead of 5, or 1st instead of 1.
General Procedures: Electronic Intake-Address (cont’d) • Local official street address index /list. Index/list serves as resource/reference for spelling or proper street name. Some streets may be known by several names. For example, in Leon County- all of the following refer to the same street or road: Tennessee Street, Mahan Drive, and U.S. 90. • U.S. Postal Service. U.S.P.S. website is a resource of zip codes, etc. (www.usps.com).
Points to Remember: Address Input • A residential address that is wrong or incorrectly entered could result in wrong precinct/polling place assignment. • Consequence: A person appears at wrong precinct. Even though he or she could do address update at polls, the person may not have to time to go to right precinct to vote. If he or she votes provisional ballot at the wrong precinct, the provision ballot will not count because the person was not in proper precinct.
General Procedures: Electronic Intake-Political Party 3. DHSMV current system menu (as of mid-July 2008) • Provides 3 major political party selection options: • Major party listing (Democratic Party stands for Florida Democratic Party and Republican Party stands for Republic Party of Florida) • No party affiliation • Minor party listing (alphabetical order) • Allows for print out of political party list for review if person wants to see the choices or to assist person in choice. • Minimizes the opportunity for unintended changes to a currently registered voter’s political party if the person wants to make changes other than a change in political party in his or her record.
Menu Screen for Political Party Change Major political parties No party affiliation Minor political parties
Menu Screen for Changes Other than Party –Party selection not activated. Recorded with NPC (No party change). If person is already registered, NPC converts to NPA (no party affiliation) . Voter contacted
Menu Screen for Signature Update No Party Change (NPC) –Party selection not activated
Points to Remember: Electronic Intake-Political Party • Not a required field. However a person’s choice to register with or without political party affiliation affects the right to vote for certain contests on a ballot in a Primary Election (PE)or Presidential Preference Primary Election (PPP). If a person leaves it blank or registers without a specific party, he or she is registered as ‘No Party Affiliation.’ • Florida is a CLOSED Primary Election State. Only persons registered with a (major or minor) political party can vote for that party’s candidate nominees on the PE or PPP ballot. However, all registered voters regardless of party affiliation or no party-affiliation, can vote for: • Issues (e.g., statewide constitutional amendments or other local referendums) • Non-partisan candidate offices (e.g. judges, school board districts or other non-partisan offices (provided local ordinance says the office is non-partisan) • Partisan candidate office if all the nominees in primary election or PPP are from the same political party and the winner faces no opposition in the General Election. (known as Universal Primary Contest)
Points to Remember: Electronic Intake-Political Party (cont’d) How do you register someone who wants to register as an ___ or with __party?” Independent. Do you input “No-party” “Independent Democrats of Florida” “Independent Party of Florida” or “Independence Party of Florida?” Democrat. Do you input “Florida Democratic Party (aka Democratic Party)” or “Independent Democrats of Florida?” Socialist. Do you input “Florida Socialist Workers” “Socialist Party of Florida” or “Party for Socialism and Liberation-Florida?” Libertarian. Do you input “Libertarian Party of Florida” “Progressive Libertarian Party” or “Party for Socialism and Liberation?” The America Party. Do you input “The Real Food Party of the United States of America” “American Reform Party of Florida” “America Party of Florida?” “Surfers Party of America” “Veterans Party of America” or “America First Party of Florida”? The Reform Party. Do you input “American Reform Party of Florida” “British Reformed Sectarian Party” or “Reform Party?”
General Procedures: Electronic Intake-Political Party (cont’d) • Seek clarification. All of the previously listed political parties are legitimate. If it is unclear as to which political party the person wants to be registered or whether he or she not wants to register with any party at all, ask for clarification. Use list to help person choose proper party. • DOS sends party list updates to DHSMV for immediate implementation in system and current list of all registered parties is always available at: http://election.dos.state.fl.us/online/parties.shtml) • As of May 2009, there are 2 major political parties and 30 minor political parties registered in Florida.