Florida: Documenting the 2012 Vote

Note: This page covers information specific to Florida. For general information regarding legal issues associated with documenting your vote, see the Documenting the Vote 2012 page.


Section 102.031(5) of the Florida Statutes prohibits "photography . . . in the polling room." The "polling room" means "the actual room in which ballots are cast on election day and during early voting." Fla. Stat. § 97.021(26). While the law does not expressly mention video, it is likely that a court would interpret the statute to prohibit video inside the polling room as well. In light of this statute, you should not attempt to use a camera or recording equipment inside the polling room in Florida. If lines gather inside the polling place building but outside the polling room itself, or if poll workers check in voters outside the polling room, then you may be able to use a camera in these locations, but it is advisable to check with election officials first.

Activity Inside the Polling Place

Section 102.031(3) limits access to the polling room to poll workers, certain election officials, and voters (along with persons in the care of a voter, and persons caring for a voter). This means that members of the media, whether traditional or non-traditional, cannot enter the polling room except to vote. Section 101.51 states that a voter may not speak with anyone when in the booth or compartment to cast his or her vote, and that the voter must leave the polling room immediately after voting.

Activity Outside the Polling Place

Section 102.031(4)(a) states that no person may "solicit" voters inside or within 100 feet of the entrance to a polling place. "Solicit" means "seeking or attempting to seek any vote, fact, opinion, or contribution," but explicitly does not include "exit polling." Fla. Stat. § 102.031(4)(b); see also 2012 Polling Place Procedures Manual, p. 5. Therefore, you are permitted to ask other voters how they voted as they leave, but other "solicitation" within 100 feet of the polling place (including asking voters how they intend to vote, or urging a vote for a political candidate) is prohibited. See Citizens for Police Accountability Political Committee v. Browning, 572 F.3d 1213 (11th Cir. 2009) (holding that ban on solicitation activities outside of polling place is constitutional).

If you are not inside or within 100 feet of the polling place, Florida law places fewer restrictions on your activities. You generally may take photographs and video and interview other voters (with permission). Despite this greater degree of freedom, you should take care not to make voters feel uncomfortable or interfere with the voting process in any way. Section 104.0515 makes it a crime to "intimidate . . . any other person for the purpose of interfering with the right of such other person to vote or not to vote as that person may choose." Similarly, section 104.0615 makes it a crime to "use . . . intimidation or any tactic of coercion or intimidation to induce or compel an individual" to carry out various voting-related activities. While you may not view your newsgathering activities as intimidating, poll workers and other voters might take a different view. This probably is less of a concern outisde the 100-foot zone established in section 102.031(4), but it is something to be aware of nonetheless.


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