Campaign #142: Florida Vote By Mail Enrollment


Not all states offer what is sometimes called “no excuses vote by mail.” Florida does. In fact, Florida’s Vote By Mail program makes it possible for serious voters to receive ballots mailed to them automatically. In 2018, we worked a few Florida counties as a test to see if fun, friendly, handwritten postcards could get more Democrats to enroll in Vote By Mail (VBM). It worked!

Democratic County parties around the state are interested in us doing for them the same kind of mailbox magic we did in Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, and a small section of Miami-Dade. Pasco saw their VBM enrollment among Democrats go from a little over 400 before we started writing to over 1,200 after we had finished. The Supervisor of Elections had never seen anything like it before.

One of the things that makes enrolling for VBM so easy for those already registered to vote in the first place is that it can be done by phone. (Each county has a different phone number since their voter registration is handled at the county level.) More Democrats enrolled in Florida’s Vote By Mail program will lead to more Democratic candidate wins. Why? Because voters enrolled in VBM cast ballots at a significantly stronger rate than those who vote in person.

The Numbers

The Florida Democratic Party has studied the numbers. Looking just at quadrennial voters (those who only vote every 4 years in the Presidential elections), they found that VBM voters participated at a rate of 71%. The voters who were not enrolled, though, showed up in person at a rate of only 31%. That’s a huge difference. And that’s in a Presidential election.

Imagine the effect of having ballots arrive conveniently in your mailbox for every single election? Municipal? State? Runoffs? Specials? The fact is that Democratic voters are much more likely to participate when the ballot is mailed to them without them asking each time.

With your help, we are going to promote Vote By Mail enrollment county-by-county across the Sunshine State. By the time we’re done, the whole state will have hundreds of thousands of additional VBM voters ready to exercise their right to vote in the 2020 Presidential election.

VMB Controversy?

Some of you may be wondering about the controversy over VBM covered in the news recently. The confusion over signatures and improperly-completed ballots is real. But, here’s another real-world fact to consider: 12.6 million ballots were received by mail in Florida this November. Of those, around 12,000 we initially held aside for some complication. Half of those ended up being counted after the voters were contacted and showed up to fix whatever the matter was.

That’s 12.6 million votes cast by mail versus 6,000 (approximately) which had some problem. I agree it’s not perfect. Far from perfect. But, given the huge increase in voter participation when they have a ballot mailed to them, the very low incidence of mailed ballots which get set aside, the high interest of the Democratic Party in Florida to continue promoting this program, and everything that hangs in the balance for even better turnout in 2020 than we had a month ago, I hope you’ll join us in the lofty 2-year mission to give every Democrat in every Florida county a reminder to sign up for VBM.

Some Background

1. Studies have shown that registering someone to vote-by-mail increases the likelihood that they will vote, particularly in down ballot races.
2. Asking voters to request vote-by-mail ballots is still one of the most effective get out the vote strategies there is.
3. In Florida, a key battleground state, Republicans usually dominate vote-by-mail voting. This is largely because they passed a law a few years back (when they already had a huge vote-by-mail advantage) that allowed everyone already enrolled to vote-by-mail to permanently receive a vote-by-mail ballot for all elections. However, for new enrollees, they now have to re-enroll every two general elections. This means voters are continually falling-off the vote-by-mail rolls and we have to work harder to get them re-enrolled.
4. Having a long ballot mailed to voters gives them more time to thoughtfully consider each vote. They can take their time to research candidates and issues before completing their ballot.

Thank you!

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