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How to vote by mail in Florida for the 2020 general election

There are ways to track your ballot to ensure your voice is heard.

Florida allows voting by mail.

Vote-by-mail ballots can be picked up in-person or requested and delivered without you having to go to the polls during early voting or on Election Day, which is Nov. 3, 2020.

Each ballot includes instructions.

The deadline for Floridians to request a vote-by-mail ballot be mailed to them for the 2020 general election is 5 p.m. on Oct. 24. County supervisors of elections then have two business days to mail the ballots after the requests are made. Of course, Florida voters requesting mail ballots that close to the election will want to ensure they send back their completed ballots quickly so they arrive by the return deadline of 7 p.m. local time on Nov. 3.

How to request a vote-by-mail ballot

Florida voters may request vote-by-mail ballots in any of the following ways:

You must include the following information:

  • The voter's name
  • The voter’s address
  • The voter’s date of birth
  • The voter’s signature (if the request is written and is to an address other than the one on file.)
    • **An exception to this requirement exists for an absent uniformed service voter or an overseas voter requesting a vote-by-mail ballot.

Voters may designate an immediate family member or legal guardian to request the ballot on their behalf. If doing that, this additional information is required:

  • The requestor’s address
  • The requestor’s driver’s license number (if available)
  • The requestor’s relationship to the voter
  • The requestor’s signature (if the request is written). 

Who can pick up a vote-by-mail ballot?

Florida voters can pick up their own vote-by-mail ballots once they become available, including on Election Day. A voter's designee can also retrieve the ballot, although that's allowed no earlier than nine days prior to Election Day.

Designees can only pick up vote-by-mail ballots, not including their own or the ones of their immediate family members, for two other voters per election. Each designee must submit an affidavit to pick up a blank ballot on behalf of someone else. This form is a combination document that includes that affidavit, along with a place for written authorization and the request for a mail ballot.

If any voter or designee waits until Election Day to pick up or have delivered a mail ballot, this extra affidavit must be filled out. The voter must affirm that an emergency exists, preventing the voter from being able to cast a ballot at his or her assigned polling location.

Vote-by-mail ballot 'send' deadline

If you're an absentee stateside or overseas U.S. military service member or an overseas civilian voter, the supervisor of elections in your county is legally obligated to mail your ballot no later than 45 days before the general election. That means your ballot should be in the mail by Sept. 19, assuming you're registered to vote and requested a mail ballot.

If you're a domestic nonmilitary voter who requested a mail ballot, the supervisor of elections is required to send your ballot during a 7-day window between 40 and 33 days before the November election. The send-period for the upcoming election is Sept. 24 through Oct. 1.

Vote-by-mail ballot request and return deadlines

The deadline for you to request a vote-by-mail ballot be sent your way is 5 p.m. on the 10th day before the general election. That means you need to have requested your ballot by 5 p.m. on Oct. 24.

Try to return your ballot quickly. Vote-by-mail ballots must be returned to and received by your county elections office no later than 7 p.m. on Election Day in order to be counted in Florida. That means you need to mail back your completed ballot early and ensure it has arrived at its final destination by 7 p.m. local time on Nov. 3. 

The U.S. Postal Service recommends that domestic nonmilitary voters mail back their ballots at least one week before Election Day. Absent military and overseas voters should consider mailing their ballots back even sooner. There's a recommended timetable at the bottom of this page.

If you filled out your ballot locally and are worried you didn't leave enough time to mail it back, drop it in a secure drop box at your supervisor of elections office or locally-designated area in-person. Find your county here to learn where you can securely drop the ballot where you live.

How to track your mail ballot

You can track the status of your ballot through the Division of Elections' Voter Information Lookup page or through your county supervisor of elections' website. 

The U.S. Postal Service offers a free service called Informed Delivery that lets you digitally preview the address side of certain mail, like a ballot you requested, which may help you determine when the blank form will arrive at your home.

NOTE: If your registration information is protected under the law or you're a participant in the address confidentiality program, you will need to contact your county elections office to check the status of your mail ballot.

What if you got a mail ballot but want to vote in-person?

If you received a mail ballot but want to vote in-person instead, bring the mail ballot with you on Election Day  – even if you haven't filled out the document. If you hand your ballot to a poll worker at your polling place, your mail ballot will be voided and you'll be allowed to vote in-person that day.

If you forget to bring your mail ballot, you may still be allowed to vote using a regular ballot if the supervisor of elections office can confirm it hasn't received a mail ballot from you. However, it's still best to bring the ballot with you, even if it's blank.

If the elections office confirms it has already received a mail ballot from you, you won't be allowed to complete a regular ballot in-person. If, for some reason, you believe the supervisor of elections office in your county is wrong about receiving a mailed ballot from you, you can vote using a provisional ballot. Provisional ballots help protect against fraud and aren't scanned in the normal tabulation machines. Instead, they are reviewed and validated by a canvassing board that counts ones it deems eligible. The supervisor of elections office can tell you if your provisional ballot was counted.

It's important to note, the secrecy of your vote is still protected even when it's being reviewed by the canvassing board. The board only examines the document for legal indicators to determine your eligibility to vote.

How to handle a missing or mismatched signature

The supervisor of elections will notify you if your signature is missing or doesn't match the one on file. If that happens, you should complete and return a "vote-by-mail ballot cure" affidavit, along with a copy of your identification.

That document may be returned in person, by mail, email, or via fax. The deadline to submit such an affidavit and a copy of your photo ID is no later than 5 p.m. local time on the second day after the election.

Failing to follow the instructions on the form may cause your ballot to go uncounted.

10 Tampa Bay Cares: Are you a person with disabilities? We're here to help. Click here for accessible voting information to make sure your voice is heard.

►Get election results on your phone: Download the free 10 Tampa Bay app

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