What Gives With The New Election Rules?



Without voting there can be no democracy.  It’s the one and only way that we the people can assure government works for us and not the other way around.  When people don’t vote, can’t or won’t vote, our democracy is diminished.

The rules for who is eligible to vote are clear and well established.  Dead people are not on the list, so excuse the suggestion but why the hell is this a problem in Florida?

With all the advanced technology that surrounds us, you’d think there’d be an easy way for government to find out when somebody dies and take the basic ministerial steps to efficiently clear them off the voting roles.  Government work is difficult, but that task should be easy to perform.  It should happen like clockwork.  So it’s kind of hard to explain why the State Department, working with the Health Department which manages death certificates, should have fixed this issue long ago.  Yet they haven’t and you have to wonder why.

Absent this basic coordination, local supervisors of elections are presented with tasks that really should be done with our state tax dollars.  Kudos to Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes, not just for taking on the task, but approaching the problem seriously.

It’s been suggested that Florida’s approach to the issue has been somewhat reckless.  Concerns that should never arise have been raised at the US Department of Justice.  The news reports WWII veterans who have voted for years being taken off the voter rolls in obvious error.

Dr. Snipes on the other hand has promised to take a careful and cautious approach.  That demonstrates wisdom and temperament in handling an issue correctly.  Likely, that’s because Dr. Snipes is motivated toward helping people vote.

It’s the kind of motivation that explains her office’s recent efforts to send out thousands of absentee ballot request forms — a task that must be repeated before the upcoming August and November elections.

Forty percent of Broward voters are using absentee ballots and demand for it is growing fast.  Dr. Snipes is part of a group motivated to making voting easy, convenient, reliable and cheap.  Dr. Snipes wants every registered voter to vote.  She also wants to protect the rights of every eligible voter to cast a vote.  Her motivations are exactly where they need to be.

People are starting to question what motivates new election rules in Florida.  They seem at odds with the kind of common sense, practical efforts we see locally.

Where’s The Problem?

Take the dead people voting issue.

The State already knows when a Floridian dies so there’s really no excuse for them not being taken off the voting rolls, off the DMV lists, off many lists.  Their status as dead needs to be reflected quickly after the state is notified of their passing just like other States do.  It’s a pretty common state responsibility that’s rarely if ever at issue in other states.  That’s because those states are motivated, typically by law to keep good records.

Why is this not happening in Florida?  Why are dead people voting an unresolved problem here?  And why, instead of solving that specific problems which needs to be solved, do we instead make time to create new “rules” that are unnecessary and place us at odds with getting more people to vote, easily, conveniently, reliably and less expensively?  I used to think this was a management failure issue.  I’m now thinking it’s intentional.

We know that vote by mail is secure, will save billions in unnecessary elections costs and vastly increases voter turnout.  That’s why League of Women Voters supports the concept nationwide.  Go to Oregon and you’ll see it working in place, very well for decades.  Yet Florida won’t do it.  Why?

We know that early voting helps bring out the vote, particularly in minority communities.  Yet we’re cutting back on early voting.  Especially on Sundays which is a big turnout day for Blacks and Hispanics.


New rules about ID needed to vote, new rules about when and where to vote.  New rules, more rules, changed rules, unnecessary rules, obstructionist rules, illegal rules.

The State says these are important safeguards.  Yet the effect is to discourage voting, more particularly certain sectors of the voting population which is very troubling.  Yet we still have no progress on keeping dead people from voting.


We know that registering people to vote is an important part of increasing voter turnout.  Yet new rules make impost fines and threats keeping volunteers from helping neighbors to register and vote.  League of Women Voters used to do this religiously.  No more in Florida.  They consider it a liability and who could blame them.  The list of state rules seemingly designed to discourage voting is growing.  A pattern is forming, leading the US Department of Justice to suspect that Florida is trying to limit who votes.  DOJ has no tolerance for that kind of things and have warned Florida they’re being watched closely.

Voting Is Key To Democracy

Floridians need to be on high alert also.   This has nothing to do with political parties or who’s governor.  This has to do with government — any government — crossing a line they have no business approaching.  The right to vote is ours.  It belongs to the people or we stop being a democracy.

All government needs to do there is help us vote.  Not interfere.   When government starts messing with our voting franchise, we cease being a democracy and that should never be allowed.   That’s when we the citizens need to slap government down and put it back into line.  If this “rule making” continues we may be forced to make that choice.

I do not like the pattern that is emerging.  It seems clear to me that these rules, placed together, are not at all about voter integrity.  They are about manipulating the voting system itself.   If so, that motivation is evil and undemocratic.

At a time when it’s never been tougher for all of us in society to agree on any one political viewpoint, here’s one where we should agree.  Every single eligible voter should have the opportunity to cast their vote with minimal amount of inconvenience, with high reliability, with strong government encouragement to participate, and at a reasonable cost to taxpayers.  Measured by that standard, Florida’s election rules are woefully inadequate and getting worse not better.  We should all join in reversing that trend or bear the risks of a diminished democracy.


(Angelo Castillo is a Pembroke Pines city commissioner representing Southwest Broward.  He is also chief executive officer of Broward House, a HIV/AIDS community service organization.)

23 Responses to “What Gives With The New Election Rules?”

  1. Pembroke Pines Resident says:

    The Republicans don’t want blacks voting in what might be a close race, so they have passed all types of rules to stop them. IT IS THE REPUBLICANS WHO ARE ANTI-DEMOCRATIC.

  2. YAFOS says:

    To “Pembroke Pines Resident says”…DON”T make this a black thing. It’s stupid and just as racists as the other side. This is about the mere fact that democrats outnumber republicans in the state by a huge percentage. The republicans are weighing their options as to how to “balance” this out. It is, as Angelo says, “evil and undemocratic” But blacks don’t get special treatment here. We are all in the same boat. It’s about all people with a right to vote. The problem we have to deal with, and decide if it’s something we want to fix, is that we the people AGAIN just let this stuff happen. How is it that ANYONE who voted for these voter suppression bills gets back into office once more??? look at how much in contributions many of them are getting. It boggles the mind.

    This is fixable. People just need to have a desire to say “enough is enough”. We are not there yet, I guess.

  3. City Activist Robert Walsh says:

    This Gov(goober) w/ his purging. I mean really, don’t like the way people vote , then by all means take away there voting rights. Thank you Dr.Brenda Snipes for looking out for all of us.

  4. Richard J Kaplan says:

    Personally, I would like to do what is done in Oregon, handle all elections with mail ballots.


    1) Everyone gets a ballot to vote, and it may even increase the number of voters.

    2) No more precincts along with all the problems that come with them like the staffing, siting, ADA, campaigning outside, on and on. The complaints concerning precincts will be a thing of the past.

    3) It’s a lot cheaper then precincts.

    4) No more issues on early voting, days to vote, and Sunday voting.

    5) You won’t have to request an absentee ballot anymore since it will automatically be sent to you.

    For those that don’t trust the mails, you need only set up places to deposit your ballot, like at one of our 31 City Halls and County Hall.

    Eventually this is the way it might go. Because between early voting and the ease of absentee voting, voting on the day of the election has been decreasing each year, and we could save a lot of money while increasing convenience and participation.

    For those that think that it will open us up to fraud then they should be arguing against absentee voting now (it’s the same issue). Plus for some reason why does it work in Oregon and couldn’t here?

  5. Citizen says:

    Richard J. Kaplan has my vote- and Oregon has it right. Vote by mail.
    Think of how much money would be saved!!

    But a county constitutional officer like we have now in Brenda Snipes and 67 other FL counties would never give up that power to argue for her “budget”, recently renovated 1st Fl offices at the main county bldg, strong arming for a new central location (argued about for the last 3 years), trying to figure out how to dispose of the code obsolete NW 64th St. bldg preferred by Miriam Oliphant 9remember her), etc. etc.

    If you want to vote you have to have ID. period. you can’t cash a check without ID. if you are pulled over for traffic stop you better have and produce a drivers license. if you want to vote, prove you are who you are. I am white. I can’t vote without ID. Have you renewed a FL drivers license since 9-11? Know about the tons of docs you need to bring to prove you are who you are no matter how long you have driven in FL?
    Stop the whining and comply. Its not a race or gender thing.

  6. Floridan says:

    Comm. Castillo is exactly right, and yet I doubt there will be any change except by court order. The Republicans have the power and they don’t really care what the people think.

  7. Frank says:

    Have you ever considered that not everybody who is registered to vote in Florida, dies in Florida?

    Things aren’t always so black and white.

  8. Sam the Sham says:

    The problem that Gov. Scott is trying to fix is dead people voting, illegal aliens voting, people living in other states voting and people voting more than once.

    Dems are screaming about this because it takes away their ability to foist voter fraud on the public. If Florida hands down a list of people they suspect of being ineligible to vote, it is the duty of the SOE to vett that list and give us a true voter roll. Instead, we get a SOE that drags her feet and a bunch of Dem operatives who cry “voter suppression”. Pathetic.

    If I were the Guv, I would demand her to show cause. If not, and she fails to purge illicit voters, I would remove her from office.

  9. Richard J Kaplan says:

    Oh, I forgot to include that Mail Ballots are legal in Florida if it is only for a referendum, not if a candidate election is involved. See F.S. 101.6102 Mail ballot elections.

    So for some reason it’s OK sometimes without an explanation on why not for other situations. But fraud concerns couldn’t be the reason.

  10. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:


    Floridians dying out of state is a big part of why most US states coordinate and share data with each other to make sure they all know who’s dead. It’s not a foolproof system, nothing is. But you just don’t read headlines elsewhere in America about dead people voting.

    No, for that news story you have to travel to Florida. Here this seems to be an unresolved problem that’s been around for years. That alone tells me nobody wants to solve it. Perhaps having the problem is “convenient.” That way we can disguise other “election rules” as being necessary.

    Sorry Frank but that’s evil.

    We cannot assume anymore given this resolvable problem has been around for years that it’s incompetence. When a problem like this doesn’t get resolved, it’s intentional. And that should offend every Floridian regardless of party or demographic, etc. It’s wrong. The worst kind of wrong. And we shouldn’t stand for it.

    The only election rules Floridians need are the kind that get more eligible citizens voting, more often, more reliably, with greater ease, and at greatly reduced cost.


  11. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:

    Florida has by fate become the state that elects presidents. All eyes turn to us in November. We have already established ourselves as a state with a dubious reputation when it comes to elections. I am offended when people refer to our state as Florid-DUH. It offends me and it should offend you. I want us to be known as being a best, not worst practice in government.

    What the hell goes on here?


  12. Floridan says:

    @Sam: “The problem that Gov. Scott is trying to fix . . . ”

    There is no evidence that this is a big problem — how many people have been charged with voter fraud in Florida?

    “If Florida hands down a list of people they suspect of being ineligible to vote”

    And what is that list based on? Is there any transparency or criteria in the process? How do we know that the list is developed objectively?

    “I would remove her from office”

    I don’t think you understadn how a representative democracy works.

  13. Sam the Sham says:

    Floridan, just keep your head in the sand, or up your ass, whichever the case might be.

    While I think you might have an inkling of what a representative democracy is, I think you should familiarize yourself with the terms “dereliction of duty”, “incompetence” and “voter fraud”, maybe even “conspiracy to commit voter fraud”.

  14. sunset says:

    The deceased have their ID’s, credit cards, and SS# stolen regularly. Their name removal from voter rolls is a must if it’s done in a correctly. It costs the voters money.

  15. Ana Gomez-Mallada says:

    Angelo, the problem is not only the “dead”. There seems to be some wailing and gnashing of teeth regarding illegal aliens voting. The DOJ has access to the list for easy verification and consistently denied it to the Florida Department of State. Now they want toe purge to stop because the time has run out. OIt’s a lot like running down the clock. Hold the ball and the call: Time!

    Another unfathomable objection is to having to show ID when you vote. What is wrong with that? I vote. I show my driver’s license. If I couldn’t afford a driver’s license, I could get a free state-issued ID. So what is the objection? Why is it bad to want to make sure that people vote who are entitled to do so, and that elections are run fairly and in an orderly fashion so as to foster confidence?

  16. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:


    There is no rational reason that keeps Florida from going to vote by mail, saving millions yearly in election costs, safely, and get much higher turnout. Florida refuses to do it. The only reason is the group in power doesn’t want all registered voters to vote. It is not in their interest to do that. It’s in their interest to create keep specific groups from voting. That’s part of how they help themselves stay in power.

    In a democracy, that is evil.

    Ana and I both fled a country where democracy was allowed to die because the people were silent. I’ll be damned if having gone through all that, I’ll be silent as it happens all over again here.

    The job of the state is to fully encourage EVERY voter to cast a vote so that the will and voice of the people prevail in what we do. That is not what’s happening in Florida and all decent people should object to that — irrespective of party affiliation.

    It spits on the flag and on the America we all love and as a citizen I resent it.

    There is no reason to close early voting on Sundays except to depress the Black and Hispanic turnout. It was open on Sundays for years. Now — suddenly — not. Nobody can explain that away as if we’re idiots. That was an evil thing to do and regardless of party Floridians with democratic integrity must resent such tactics. Actions like that don’t belong in the America or the Florida that we love.

    I also use my driver’s license when I vote. But what the hell is the point of handing out voter registration cards if same will not be accepted as ID? IF what they want is a picture ID, then the thing to do is issue that when they give out voter registration cards, or save the money and don’t give out voter registration cards. But to issue multiple, often useless and costly pieces of government documentation? What’s that all about?

    Nobody has a problem with presenting ID. But when the majority of people without drivers licenses just happen to be Black and Hispanic, then this new rule fits yet again into the pattern of managing the vote.

    When you combine that new rule with the already formed pattern of rules that keep certain people from voting, on average, but not others, then situation stinks all the more.

    Nobody wants ineligible people voting. Certainly not dead ones. But there is no excuse for any of it to exist anymore. There never was an excuse. The Health Department issues and collects, records and manages DEATH CERTIFICATES. There are arrangements with other states and jurisdictions to collect and compare each other’s death notifications.

    Why aren’t dead people taken off state lists when we know they are dead? For decades, Florida has had to put up with this slap at our state’s reputation. It makes us look like idiots and makes everyone wonder what the hell is going on? Why won’t it get fixed? The problem doesn’t seem to happen in other states. Just Florida.

    And then it dawns on you.

    They want it that way.

    There’s advantage to it.

    It offers a great excuse, cover to do other things that would be difficult to justify otherwise.

    That’s what’s going on in Florida and I resent it.

    So does the US Department of Justice. They are now forced to intervene in Florida’s election rule making when frankly they should have more important things to do with their time. Sorry, but I refuse to believe anymore that this is just Florida being incompetent again. Nobody is that stupid. This is being done on purpose and that makes it evil.

    The job of any State with elections is to HELP ENSURE that every registered voter casts a vote every election at the lowest cost to taxpayers, dependably, and with the least inconvenience to the voter. Measured by that standard, Florida’s election rules are woeful, just terrible. And I now believe it’s intentionally done that way for political advantage otherwise we would have a very different set of policies and outcomes.

    Therefore however uncharacteristic of me, I hurl that indictment with great confidence. The State of Florida is engaged in an illegal pattern of election rule making specifically designed and motivated to help some vote more often while suppressing the ability of others to vote, based on a well studied scheme to achieve political advantage.

    Forget about partisan politics. This stabs at the heart of American democracy and every red blooded patriot should object to it on that basis. We need to give our governments clear notice. The voting franchise belongs to the people. Mess with that, you’ve got a serious problem on your hands.

    How dare they. How dare any state engage in such a pattern.


  17. Sidelines says:

    Commissioner Castillo, I agree. Thank you very much for clarity and a comprehensive explanation. It is a shame that this is not galvanizing more support.

  18. Watcher says:

    I am the only one who notes that Sam the Sham is fixated on sticking things up asses????

  19. Beth The Bounty Hunter says:

    I must admit when my mother passed two years ago we went to Property Appraiset with death cert., and they already had the obit in her file. Property Appraiser Parrish is on top of things in Broward.

  20. Sam the Sham says:

    Here is a good article worth reading:

    There is corruption taking place and it is in the Holder Justice Dept.

  21. Plain Language says:

    Article today in Sun Sentinel saying that voter fraud in Florida is nearly undetectable.

  22. Steve Schwinn says:

    They should go a step further and charge everybody removed with voter fraud. If they can’t make a case, don’t remove them.

  23. Real Deal says:

    All this “concern” about illegal voting boils down to a 2,600 person list? That’s what today’s newspaper said. How silly.