Florida overhauled its voting system after the 2000 Presidential Election recount debacle, so it’s ahead of many other states in offering alternatives to traditional in-person voting:
- Any registered voter can safely cast a mail-in absentee ballot from home, no excuse required.
- In-person voting starts 15 days before Election Day, helping to cut down on crowds at polling places. “We’re really encouraging older voters to treat Election Day similar to the way we treat hurricane season — consider your options in advance,” said Jeff Johnson, AARP state director.
- Between absentee and early in-person voting, most ballots are expected to be cast before Election Day.
Here’s what else you need to know:
How do I register to vote?
You can register online through the Florida secretary of state’s website; if you prefer, you can go to that site to download a registration application to mail in. Or pick one up at any county supervisor of elections office or local library, or at a business that’s authorized to issue fishing, hunting or trapping permits. You can also register in person at driver’s license offices, tax collector’s offices, or state government offices that qualify as voter registration agencies.
You must register by Oct. 5 to vote in the Nov. 3 election.
How can I get a mail-in ballot? Are there important deadlines?
Request a ballot through your county supervisor of elections website, or contact the office in writing, in person or by phone. Immediate family members or guardians can request a ballot for someone else. A voter’s signature is required and must match the signature on file.
Mail-in ballots must be requested by Oct. 24 and received by the local supervisor of elections by 7 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 3. Only some election offices pay for postage.
How do I know that my mail-in ballot is secure?
Registered voters must request a ballot. They must sign the ballot before returning it, and the signature must match what’s on file with the local election office. Election offices track ballots as they are received, to prevent anyone from voting twice. Voters who want someone else to deliver their ballot must authorize it in writing, and a person can deliver only two other ballots besides his or her own and those of immediate family members. Florida joined a consortium of other states that allows members to verify if someone is registered in more than one state.
When is Election Day? When are the polls open?
Tuesday, Nov. 3. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Can I vote before Election Day?
Early in-person voting starts as many as 15 days before Election Day, on Oct. 19, though the number of days and locations vary by county. Find early voting locations on your local supervisor of elections website, or call the office.
What form of identification do I need to vote?
A photo ID is required. The ID can be a driver’s license, passport or myriad others.
What is being done to make polling places safe from the coronavirus?
Precautions vary by county, but polling sites generally will have hand sanitizer, physical barriers separating voters from one another and from poll workers, and masks for poll workers. Many Florida cities and counties require face masks to be worn in indoor public places.
Will I be able to vote in the same place as I always have?
For the most part, yes, but some polling locations will not be open because of the coronavirus. You should be notified if your site has changed, but also check with your local supervisor of elections.
What are the key races in my state?
- U.S. President
- U.S. House: All 27 seats
- All 120 seats in the state House of Representatives and 21 state Senate seats
- Six amendments to the state constitution
Voting rules and procedures may change before Election Day. We’ll update this story if they do, so bookmark this and check back.
Sponsored by AARP.