It is time clear up some misconceptions about elections in America because myths and half-truths run rampant during election season.
Although most myths about voting in the US may not be spread with deceitful intent, their impact can still be harmful, as they can lead to lower voter turnout.
So here are some election myths vs. election facts for the state of Florida. Remember, election rules are different across the country.
MYTH: Voters will be turned away if they are wearing campaign apparel.
FACT: “Voters may wear campaign buttons, shirts, hats or any other campaign items when they enter the polling place to vote; voters may not otherwise campaign there.” (From the Polling Place Procedures Manual incorporated within Rule 1S-2.034, Florida Administrative Code)
So, merely going to the polls wearing campaign paraphernalia is OK, but, by statute (s. 102.031(4), Florida Statutes), one cannot solicit voters within 100 foot of the entrance to any polling place.
MYTH: The address on the driver’s license must match the address in the voter registration record in order to be able to vote.
FACT: The address on the driver license does not need to match the address in the voter registration record. If you have moved and haven’t changed your driver’s license to reflect your new address, that’s okay. What is important is that you vote in the precinct where you currently live, no matter what your driver’s license says.
MYTH: If your house is under foreclosure, you will not be able to vote.
FACT: A foreclosure notice does not necessarily mean that a person no longer resides in the home, as people often remain in the home after foreclosure begins and are sometimes able to refinance the home. Voters whose homes have been foreclosed but who remain in their homes may continue to vote in their assigned precinct. Voters who have physically moved from their foreclosed residence with no intention of returning to that address as their residence may still vote, but should provide a change of address to the supervisor of elections. You must vote in your correct precinct.
MYTH: If you are a Florida college student, you have to change your permanent residence to your college address.
FACT: If a college student registers with a legal residence in a Florida county, then no further proof of residency is required, regardless of where the college student’s parents reside or whether the student intends to move back to where the parents are located.
MYTH: Provisional ballots are only counted when there is a close race.
FACT: A provisional ballot is always counted when the voter is shown to be registered and eligible, regardless of the closeness of the outcome of the election. A person who votes provisionally simply because he or she forgot their ID at the polls will not have to do anything else. If the signatures on that ballot certificate and the voter roll matches, the provisional ballot is counted.
MYTH: Mail-in-ballots, formally known as absentee ballots, are only counted when there is a close race.
FACT: All absentee ballots are counted if properly executed, which includes making sure that the return envelope is signed and that the signature matches the voter’s signature on record.
MYTH: If a voter owes child support or has pending warrants against him or her, the police will arrest the voter at the polls.
FACT: The voter registration rolls at the polls have no indicators whether a voter owes child support or has outstanding warrants against him or her. Furthermore, law enforcement personnel are not allowed in the polling place without permission of the election board, so ordinarily there will not be any law enforcement personnel in the polling place to identify a voter who may have outstanding child support payments due or warrants against him or her.
MYTH: If the voter is homeless and has no legal residence, the voter may not vote.
FACT: State registration laws may not discriminate against the homeless in voter registration as long as the homeless applicant for voter registration intends to remain in a locale and has either a place where he can receive messages or an effective mailing address. The homeless person will vote in the precinct where the applicant receives messages (e. g. rescue mission) or the precinct in which the applicant’s effective mailing address is located.
MYTH: The position of the candidates on the ballot shows favoritism.
FACT: Donald Trump’s name is at the top of the 2020 ballot because he is a Republican. Florida law says the political party that wins the last gubernatorial election determines the order of candidates on the ballot. Republicans have won every race for governor since 1998.
MYTH: Write in whoever you want for president, that vote will count.
FACT: Every election, someone jokingly writes in Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck or Darth Vader for president. Although canvassing boards will count up those results, they won’t count them as legit. That’s because write-in candidates must register in Florida in order to be considered an official write-in candidate.
MYTH: If you voted early or by mail (previously called absentee) and want to change your vote, you can.
FACT: Some states will allow you to change your ballot. Florida will not. If you make a mistake on your ballot BEFORE you have turned it in, Florida will give you up to two more ballots so you can vote the way you want to. But after you have cast a vote, you can’t change it.
MYTH: If you don’t receive your ballot by 7 p.m. on Election Day, you won’t be allowed to vote.
FACT: As long as you are standing in line at a polling place by 7 p.m. on Election Day, you will be allowed to vote.
MYTH: Selfies are not allowed to be taken while voting.
FACT: New for 2020! A change in Florida law now allows voters to take pictures of their ballot and take selfies while voting but you can’t take other pics of the inside of the polling place.
MYTH: Children are not allowed in the voting booth when you vote.
FACT: While children are not eligible to vote, they can join you in the voting booth.
MYTH: You can’t use anything to help you vote at the voting booth.
FACT: You can absolutely bring your sample ballots, voting guides, cell phones and other items to help you vote.
MYTH: You must have your voter ID card to vote.
FACT: Your voter information card is NOT an ID card and it is not required to vote at your polling place.
MYTH: You must speak English in order to vote in elections.
FACT: You must be an American citizen, but that doesn’t mean you need to speak English to vote. The county Supervisor of Elections offices provide ballots in several languages.
MYTH: If you don’t vote in a race, your ballot won’t count.
FACT: If you leave a race blank, that is called an undervote. It will not count toward the result, and it won’t void your entire ballot. Your votes in every other race will count.
MYTH: If you are from Puerto Rico, you can’t vote.
FACT: People living in Puerto Rico do not vote in federal elections because Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory. However, Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens, which means if a Puerto Rican moves to the mainland and establishes permanent residency, they are allowed to vote in federal elections.