It has long been the voting method of choice – and necessity – for out-of-state college students and military service members serving overseas.
Now, the coronavirus is causing a lot more people to consider voting by mail.
What You Need To Know
- November 2 is the General Election
- Any registered voter in Florida can choose to vote by mail
- All ballots MUST be into the county elections office by 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 2
- 2021 ELECTIONS COVERAGE: Candidates and Races
Is there a difference between a vote-by-mail ballot and an absentee ballot?
Florida lawmakers in 2016 changed the terminology from “absentee” to “vote-by-mail” because all registered voters in the state are allowed to cast a ballot without showing up at their assigned polling location. Other states require an accepted excuse for being unable to vote in person.
Can anyone vote by mail?
Yes. Please see above.
How do I request a mail-in ballot?
There are four options:
- Fill out an online application
- Request one in writing
- Go to the elections office
- Call the elections office
You can find the mailing address, email address, phone number and fax number for your county’s Supervisor of Elections by clicking this link.
What is the deadline for requesting a vote-by-mail ballot?
It’s 10 days before an election at 5 p.m. However, the U.S. Post Service is asking voters to make the request no later than 15 days prior to the election, to give you time to get the ballot and mail it back in. The USPS is expecting an influx of ballots because of the coronavirus.
There are exceptions and alternatives for military service members serving overseas and American citizens living in other countries. That information can be found here.
What information do I need to request a mail-in ballot?
- Date of birth
- The voter’s Florida driver license, Florida identification card, or last four digits of the elector’s social security number, whichever may be verified in the supervisor’s records;
- Signature (If the request is being made in writing)
You should also already be registered to vote in Florida elections. Check your voter registration status.
If someone is requesting a ballot on your behalf, they need to include the following information:
- The requestor’s address
- The requestor’s driver license number, state identification card, or the last four digits of the elector’s social security number (if available)
- The requestor’s relationship to the voter
- The requestor’s signature (if the request is written)
Can someone else pick up my mail-in ballot?
Yes, no earlier than 9 days before Election Day, and as long as that person is someone you have officially designated to pick up your ballot by filling out this form.
Here’s what they will need:
- Your address
- Your driver’s license number, if you have one
- Your signature
It’s important to note that Florida law prohibits anyone from picking up more than two vote-by-mail ballots for other people who are not their immediate family members.
When do I have to send in my vote-by-mail ballot?
Your county's Supervisor of Elections must receive the ballot by 7 p.m. on Election Day. Because of the expected influx of ballots, the U.S. Post Office suggests mailing your ballot in at least one week before Election Day to make sure it gets delivered on time.
"Customers who opt to vote through the U.S. Mail must understand their local jurisdiction’s requirements for timely submission of absentee ballots, including postmarking requirements," USPS said in a statement released to Spectrum News Tuesday. "Voters must use First-Class Mail or an expedited level of service to return their completed ballots."
Is the mail the only way to send in a vote-by-mail ballot?
You can drop it off at your county's Supervisor of Elections office. Florida law also requires all counties to accept vote-by-mail ballots at early voting locations.
Do I have to put stamps on my mail-in ballot?
That depends on where you live. Some counties send out vote-by-mail ballots with pre-paid return postage. Others don't.
Where can I see if my mail-in ballot was received?
You can check the status of your mail-in ballot by providing your name and birthdate on the Florida Division of Elections website. Your county’s Supervisor of Elections will also be able to provide that information.
When are vote-by-mail ballots counted?
Mail-in ballots are usually counted before all the in-person ballots, despite a common myth that suggests otherwise. Those numbers are among the first results reported on election night.
Can I change my vote on a mail-in ballot if I change my mind?
Unlike other states, Florida will not allow you to change your vote after you send in your vote-by-mail ballot. However, if you make a mistake while you’re filling it out, the Supervisor of Elections will send you up to two replacement ballots.
What if my vote-by-mail ballot signature doesn’t match the one on file?
You will be notified by the Supervisor of Elections. That's why it's so important to include your contact information.
You must complete a “Vote-By Mail Ballot Cure Affidavit" and send it to your county’s Supervisor of Elections by 5 p.m. two days after Election Day. It's the same process if you forgot to sign your ballot, and if you miss the deadline, your vote will not be counted.
Everyone's signature changes over time, so you can always send in a new voter registration form to make sure your signature is up to date and avoid any issues.
Can I vote in person if I requested a mail-in ballot?
Bring your vote-by-mail ballot with you to the polls. If the poll workers can’t confirm that your vote hasn’t already been counted, you will be allowed to vote on a provisional ballot.