How To Vote In Florida In 2020
Pay attention to deadline dates and ID requirements to make sure your vote in Florida counts.
Election Day 2020 is two months away, but deadlines to register and vote are looming. Whether you want to cast a ballot for President of the United States or local Mosquito Control District (yes - that’s a thing here in Florida), here are some basics you need to know.
Let’s start with the fact that in order to vote, you must be registered. Each state has different rules and deadlines, and the rules may change as we continue to assess the impact of the pandemic.
To register to vote in Florida, you must:
- Be a U.S. citizen;
- Be 18 years old or older (16 years old to preregister to vote);
- Not have been adjudicated mentally incapacitated with respect to voting in Florida or any other state without having the right to vote restored;
- Not have been convicted of a felony without your voting rights having been restored. (See more about restoring rights here in the state voting FAQ, question 15.)
The deadline for registering for the Nov. 3 general election is Oct. 5. First-time voters in Florida can register online via the Florida Department of State.
Want to Vote By Mail?
Florida has some hard deadlines for requesting and sending vote by mail ballots. Considering more than 2.2 million people used this option in the Aug. 18 primary, voters should pay careful attention to them.
- Voters must request a vote by mail ballot be mailed to them no later than 5 p.m. on the 10th day before the election. This year, that’s Oct. 24.
- Vote by mail ballots must be returned and received no later than 7 p.m. (local time) on Election Day (Nov. 3) in order to be counted. But you don’t have to mail them: ballots may also be returned at secure drop boxes at Supervisor of Elections’ main and branch offices and early voting sites.
- See your county Supervisor of Elections website for specifics.
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Voting in Person
Early voting has grown increasingly popular in Florida, and local offices must offer it for at least eight days. While the dates may vary by county, this fall, the required early voting period window is between Saturday, Oct. 24 and Saturday, Oct. 31.
Some counties will offer early voting for even more days. The state says that can take place starting Oct. 19-23 and also Sunday, Nov. 1. See what your county Supervisor of Elections is doing.
Where and when early voting takes place in Florida will vary in each county. In general, most counties will include multiple locations and offer voting during the week and on at least one weekend. This year, with the pandemic creating concerns over space, several homes to professional sports teams will be designated as early voting locations. That includes arenas where the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning and NBA’s Orlando Magic play.
When you go, have the proper identification - a valid photo ID with signature (See below for specifics).
The final day to vote in the general election is Nov. 3. It’s important to know this is different from early voting. Here are several things you need to know to vote in person on Election Day:
- Polls in Florida are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time. You will have the opportunity to vote if you are in line at your precinct at 7 p.m.
- You must go to the polling place assigned based on your address. The state suggests you contact your county Supervisor of Elections to find your precinct and polling place. You also can use the state Voter Information Lookup.
- Identification is a must: There’s a long list of acceptable forms of ID, according to the Florida Department of Elections, as long as they are current, and include a photo and a signature.
- Florida driver’s license
- Florida identification card issued by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles
- U.S. passport
- Debit or credit card
- Military identification
- Student identification
- Retirement center identification
- Neighborhood association identification
- Public assistance identification
- Veteran health identification card issued by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs
- License to carry a concealed weapon or firearm issued pursuant to s. 790.06
- Employee identification card issued by any branch, department, agency, or entity of the Federal Government, the state, a county, or a municipality.
The state says if your photo ID does not include your signature, you will be asked to provide another ID that has your signature. And if you don’t have proper ID, you can still request a provisional ballot. That means that your vote will be counted as long as you are deemed to be eligible and voted in the proper precinct. Your provisional ballot signature also needs to match the signature in your registration record.
This story is produced in partnership with America Amplified, an initiative using community engagement to inform local journalism. It is supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.