The Asian American Federation of Florida (AAFF) is a 501(c)(3) coalition that aims to unity and collaboration among the various Asian Pacific American organizations and to improve the relationship of a culturally diverse Asian Pacific American community in Florida. The AAFF is a statewide organization made up of more than 70 Bangladesh, Burmese, Cambodian, Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Iranian, Korean, Laotian, Taiwanese, Thai, Turkish and Vietnamese community-based organizations, businesses and media.

                 FLORIDA HB 1355 –Omnibus Elections Bill

CS/CS/HB 1355 is an omnibus elections bill consisting primarily of the Secretary of State’s election administration and campaign finance packages, along with numerous other significant changes to the Florida Election Code that include:

 •Joint Resolutions:  providing for alternative ballot summaries and/or the full text of a constitutional amendment proposed by joint resolution to be placed on the ballot; providing lead-time until the end of 2013 for voting systems to be modified to accommodate the full text of an amendment; creating a presumption that placing the full text on the ballot provides electors adequate notice of what they’re voting on; containing procedures for curing defective ballot summaries; making the provisions of this section retroactive to joint resolutions passed during the 2011 legislative session.

Early Voting: providing for a more compressed, 8-day early voting period that’s closer to election day — from the 10th to the 3rd day before the election — while maintaining the current 96 total hours of early voting should supervisors deem it necessary in their counties; requiring early voting at each site to be open for a minimum of 6 hours and a maximum of 12 hours per day.

Third-Party Voter Registration Organizations: requiring such groups to submit voter registration applications within 48 hours of receipt instead of 10 days, identify registration agents collecting applications, and act as a fiduciary to voters whose applications have been collected; requiring registration forms to contain certain identifying information; mandating that the Florida Division of Elections maintain a database of forms issued to third-party voter registration groups; applying the provisions of this section retroactively to existing third-party voter registration groups.

•Address Changes at the Polls: allowing voters to change their addresses on election day and still vote a regular ballot, provided the elector is: 1) voting in the same county in which they originally registered to vote; or, 2) an active military member or in the same family with an active military member. Other electors making inter-county address changes at the polls would be required to vote a provisional ballot.

Citizen Initiative Petitions: reducing the shelf-life of initiative petition signatures proposing constitutional amendments from 4 years to 2 years.

•Reporting Election Results: requiring county canvassing boards to report all early voting and tabulated absentee ballots to the Department of State within 30 minutes after the polls close, and to subsequently report all results (other than provisional ballots) every 45 minutes until complete.

•Presidential Preference Primary (PPP) Date: eliminating the current date for the Presidential Preference Primary (last Tuesday in January) and creating a 10-member PPP Date Selection Committee, which will establish the PPP date every four years to fall between the beginning of January and the beginning of March; the date must be selected by October 1 of the year preceding the presidential election.

•State Primary Date: moving the State’s primary election from 10 weeks to 12 weeks before the general election (i.e., August 14, 2012).

•Party Switching: prohibiting would-be candidates from seeking a party’s nomination to an office if the person was a member of any other political party for a year preceding qualifying.

•Binding Directives: empowering the Secretary of State to provide written direction to supervisors of elections on matters relating to their official duties under the Florida Election Code or department rule.

•Absentee Ballots: standardizing the time frames during which absentee ballots are mailed to military, overseas, and other voters; allowing county canvassing boards to begin canvassing absentee ballots at 7 a.m. on the 15th day before an election instead of the 6th day.

•Election Law Violations: correcting an oversight in current law by providing that an administrative law judge in the Division of Administrative Hearings has the same authority as the Florida Elections Commission to impose civil penalties for election law violations.

•Voter Information Cards: adding the polling place address to voter information cards, and requiring supervisors of elections to comply with this requirement with respect to all voter information cards issued after August 1, 2012.

•Poll Watchers: bringing greater transparency and flexibility to poll watcher procedures by providing for “at-large” poll watchers.

•Random Audits: specifying that if a manual recount was conducted, a post-election, random audit of the voting system is not required.

•Campaign Finance Automatic Fines: increasing the penalty for committees of continuous existence that late-file their final campaign finance report due before a primary or general election for the first three days the report is late, from $50 per day to $500 per day (to conform to current law regarding political committee and candidate filings).

•County Candidates/Reapportionment: allowing county candidates who are seeking to qualify by petition in an apportionment year to obtain the required number of signatures from any registered voter in the respective county, regardless of district boundaries.


In March 2011, the Florida Legislature passed the House Bill 1355, signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott in May 2011. HB 1355 is an omnibus elections bill consisting primarily of the Secretary of State’s election administration and campaign finance packages, along with numerous other significant changes to the Florida Election Code. Florida’s Republican-controlled legislature passed a controversial vote suppression bill that radically overhauled the state’s election laws, reducing the time available for early voting, invalidating absentee ballots if the voter’s signature does not closely match the one on file, and forcing provisional ballots for voters whose names or addresses have changed.

HB 1355  severely restricts third party voter registration by requiring that volunteers return all signed voter registration forms within 48 hours  or face large fines ($1000) and criminal charges (voter fraud). Before the law was enacted, they had 10 days to review and submit registration forms.

            Volunteers will now need to go down to local Supervisor’s Offices, register by providing detailed personal information, take an oath and be held personally and financially liable if they do not deliver the completed forms back to the Supervisor within 48 hours. Fines will be levied up to $1,000 per person

The League of Women voters, one of the country’s biggest third-party registrars, pulled out of Florida as a result of the new law, because it now:

The Asian American Federation of Florida, which has previously assisted in voter registration through its member organizations and in church congregations, have also decided not to participate in voter registration assistance for fear of stiff penalties.


2.) HB 1355 requires anyone whose address may have changed since they registered to vote,  to cast a provisional ballot on Election Day instead of a regular ballot.   This specifically affects college students, or military personnel, low income and minority voters, or whose names may have changed such as newly married women,

HB 1355 would disallow voters from updating their address at their polling place on election day. Previously, voters who have moved within the State of Florida were able to update their information at their polling place and still cast a regular ballot.  

Early Voting strengthens our democracy by making voting easier, bringing more people to the polls,  reducing congestion at polling places on Election Day, and maybe even decreasing the effectiveness of last-minute negative political attack.

HB1 1355 provides for a more compressed, 8-day early voting period that’s closer to election day — from the 10th to the 3rd day before the election 
•  will affect about  40 million people nationwide, including a third of Florida voters, who cast their ballots before Election Day in 2008


ARGUMENT FOR: The bill is necessary to curb voter fraud


Florida is now seeing a significant drop-off in new voter registrations.  In the months since the new law took effect in July, at least 81,471 fewer Floridians have registered to vote compared to the same period before the 2008 presidential election.

The Florida League of Women Voters, the Rock the Vote group that focuses on young people and the Florida Public Interest Research Group Education Fund say the election law infringes their First Amendment rights of free speech and freedom of association.

Progressive forces are now mobilizing against the GOP’s voter suppression bill in Tallahassee and across the state.

As of March, 2012 – The state is seeking court approval for changes that shorten the time for voter registration groups turning in registration forms to 48 hours and narrow the time frame for early voting from  10 days to 3 days before election day

On the legislative side, State Rep. Mark Pafford , Democrat of West Palm Beach, has introduced a bill in January that would reverse many of the suppressive measures in HB 1355. Pafford’s Bill would also require that third party registration groups deliver voter registration forms to the division or the supervisor of elections within 10 days rather than within 48 hours stipulated in the current law.

Five Florida counties with a history of racial discrimination (Hendry,  Hardee, Collier, Hillsborough and Monroe) are covered by the act, which requires Federal approval of changes in State election laws.

Higher early voter turnout for the presidential primary in these five counties compared to other Florida counties, where the new elections law decreased the number of early voting days including the final Sunday before election day.