Florida Department of State
Kurt S. Browning
Secretary of State
For Immediate Release
July 01, 2009
Federal Court Upholds Protection of 100 Foot Solicitation Zone
The United States Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit, has upheld the Florida statute prohibiting groups from approaching voters to sign petitions within 100 feet of a polling place.
"As elections officers, we applaud the court for upholding this law which is critical to protecting voters and the voting experience," said Secretary Kurt Browning.
The Secretary of State asked the 11th Circuit to reverse the trial court’s ruling which had prohibited enforcement of the law against certain groups who sought to conduct "exit petitioning"--collecting signatures from voters after they voted--during the August 2008 primary election.
On appeal, the Secretary argued that enforcement of the law was justified by the State’s interest in protecting voters from confusion and undue influence and preserving the integrity of the election process. The court agreed, finding that exit petitioning was not meaningfully different from traditional political canvassing, and that both activities created a risk of intimidating the electorate and deterring potential voters from coming to the polls.
The court stated: "We believe the sanctity of the voting process and the abuse it has historically faced must allow the Florida legislature to exercise some foresight, to take precautions, and to prohibit questionable conduct nearly polling places before that conduct proves its danger; a compromised election is too great a harm to require otherwise."