Amendments may lead to all e-voting in Bar elections
The Florida Supreme Court has approved proposed bylaw amendments that could one day pave the way for a shift to all-electronic balloting in Bar elections.
The June 1 opinion, In Re: Amendments to Rules Regulating The Florida Bar — Bylaws 2-3.6 and 2-4.6, (Case No. SC-2023-0007), initially notes a technical change, the addition of the words “secret ballot,” to maintain the existing confidentiality of the voting process.
“As for changes that affect the subject matter of the bylaws, bylaw 2-3.6 is amended to account for electronic voting during elections for positions on the Bar’s Board of Governors, and the deadline for eligible members to submit ballots (by paper or electronically) is shortened from three to two weeks.”
The opinion goes on to note similar changes to Bylaw 2-4.6, “to account for electronic voting in elections for the Bar’s president-elect, and the deadline to submit ballots in such elections is shortened from three to two weeks.”
Justices adopted the proposed changes mostly as submitted, but with minor modifications that include re-ordering subdivisions and adding a date — April 7 — to both bylaws for certifying the results of runoff elections.
The Board of Governors approved the proposed amendments in December. They generated no comments when they were publicly noticed in the Bar News.
A staff analysis noted that proposed changes would shorten the election period to two weeks “as an interim measure.” But ultimately, “the Bar would like to move to only electronic ballots as an efficiency and cost-saving measure,” the analysis states.
Bar staff estimates that eliminating the need to mail paper ballots would save thousands of dollars.
In February 2022, Elections Services Corporation, which administers The Florida Bar’s elections, noted that 5,254 members consented to receive only an e-ballot that year, on top of the 6,773 members who opted for an e-ballot the year before and automatically received an e-ballot.
The rest of eligible voters received courtesy e-ballots and paper ballots, with instructions on how to cast their votes online with the Bar’s elections company. If a member voted online, the paper ballot was voided.