Congress passed a series of laws known as the Reconstruction Acts in 1867. These laws required the former Confederate states to dissolve existing state governments, register all eligible men (white or African-American) to vote, and then hold conventions to create new state constitutions. To be readmitted to the United States, each state’s constitution had to accept the end of slavery and adopt the 14th amendment, which guaranteed equal rights for all men, regardless of race. Florida’s voters selected delegates to a state constitutional convention in November 1867. The convention met on January 20, 1868, and the new constitution was ratified by the voters the following May.
To provide for the Protection and Purity of Elections.
Be it Ordained by the People of Florida in Convention assembled, That no person shall give, or offer to give, directly or indirectly, any bribe, present, or reward, or any private benefit or promise of such benefit whatever, to induce any voter to refrain from casting his vote, or to prevent him in any way from voting, or to procure or attempt to procure him to vote for any particular candidate or candidates at any election in this State, and the person so giving, or offering to give, and the person receiving the same, and any person who gives, or causes to be given, an illegal vote, knowing it to be such, at any election in this State, shall, on conviction in a court of law, be fined not exceeding three hundred dollars for each offense, or be imprisoned not exceeding six months; and either party to such unlawful bargain or agreement may make complaint or commence prosecution, and appear in evidence against the other, and thereby absolve himself from all penalty in said case; And further, No person shall threaten or intimidate in any way, or injure any elector on account of the manner in which he may have voted, or be expected to vote, or to knowingly deceive or mislead any elector in relation to the time or place of holding any election, or in the name or political affiliation of any candidate at any election in the State; and any person violating this provision shall, upon conviction thereof, be fined not less than five hundred dollars for each offense, or be imprisoned for not less than one year; Provided, That the legislature shall have power at any time to change, amend, or repeal this Ordinance.
And be it further ordained, That the President of this Convention immediately furnish fifty printed copies of this Ordinance to the sheriff of each county in the State, who shall publish and post the same throughout his county for four weeks previous to the next election.
Passed in open Convention, February 22d, A. D. 1868.
HORATIO JENKINS, JR., President.
SHERMAN CONANT, Secretary.