Florida’s ballot access laws for candidates seeking office are some of the strictest in the entire country. In the midst of a global pandemic we cannot just sit by while other states eliminate or reduce the fees and/or petitions that are required for being placed on the ballot. While many states have either a filing fee or a signature collection process, Florida’s ballot access process makes it incredibly difficult for new candidates to be placed on the ballot, limiting the effectiveness of democracy in the state.
The requirement to collect signatures from 1% of the entire district’s population is ridiculous, as the numbers are based on total population, rather than registered voters or the amount of registered party members in the district, such as in Illinois. Florida’s steep filing fee is 6% of what the Congressional representative makes in a year, which means new candidates have to pay a $10,440 fee if they do not qualify for the ballot with petition signatures. Such steep requirements to access the ballot are draconian and undemocratic. These fees are structured in a way which creates barriers for low-income and middle-class people from running for office, while elites who have the money and resources to either pay people to collect signatures, or pay the filing fee, have an easier time accessing the ballot.
While some people may argue that the ballot access laws are useful in ensuring support from the local electorate, and the rigidity in the collection and verification of the signature process prevents voting fraud, both arguments are relatively useless as the state counts 1% of all people in the district rather than registered voters, and the so-called “fraud” which causes signatures to be thrown out is usually because a misspelling, a signature being slightly off, or an inaccurate date. The current ballot access laws in Florida are unconstitutional and must be changed to allow all people to actively participate in the democratic process, rather than just the elites of society.