Update: The date to register to vote has been extended to 7 p.m. Oct. 6 since the state's website crashed on Monday. Original story below.
The deadline for Florida voters to register or update their registration is coming soon — Oct. 5. Here are some things you need to know in order to conduct our most patriotic duty as Americans: exercising our right to vote.
REGISTER TO VOTE
If you need to register to vote for the first time or you want to update your information, such as your address, political party or name, visit RegisterToVoteFlorida.gov by Oct. 5. On this site, you have the option to register or update your information.
Remember that Florida hosts closed primary elections — that means you can only vote in the Democratic or Republican primaries (which were in August) if you are a registered member of that party. There are other minor political parties, such as the Green Party and Libertarian Party, or even just No Party Affiliation. They are not eligible to vote on Democratic or Republican primary races.
You will be mailed your voter registration card. On this card, you will have information like your polling place and your precincts. This will help you know which races you need to pay attention to based on the people who represent your neighborhood. If you don’t get your card in time to vote, that’s OK — you can look all that information up on your county’s Supervisor of Election website.
Before you vote, you will also receive a sample ballot in the mail. This will have the exact layout and questions you will find on Election Day or during early voting. Again, if you don’t receive one, you can see a copy online.
VOTING BY MAIL
Unfortunately, the deadline to request a mail-in ballot has passed. However, if you have a mail-in ballot, fill it out just like you would in person and then put it in the envelope provided. Be sure to read all the instructions — for example, you must sign the ballot envelope or your vote will not count.
While the Florida Department of Elections is recommending that you mail your ballot back at least seven days before Election Day on Nov. 3, voting advocates are encouraging voters to mail it out by Oct. 19 to make sure their vote is counted.
After mailing your ballot, you can track the status of your ballot on your county’s Supervisor of Elections website. The US Postal Service also has a program called Informed Delivery to help customers track their mails — including their ballot!
If for some reason you aren’t able to get your ballot in the mail on time, or you change your mind, you can still drop it off at any early voting site. You can find a list of locations on your county’s Supervisor of Election website.
If you want to beat the lines on Election Day or won’t have a chance to make it to the polls on Nov. 3, in Florida, voters are able to vote early. Early voting is Oct. 19 to Nov. 1 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. During early voting, voters are able to go to any early voting site to cast their ballot. This is different from Election Day voting, where you must go to the poll that you are assigned (you can find this on your voter registration card or online on your county’s Supervisor of Election website).
When you go to vote, you must bring a form of ID that includes signature verification — the most common form of ID that people bring to the polls is their driver’s license. Because of COVID-19, you must also wear a mask. In Florida, ballots are pieces of paper that you fill in a bubble to cast your vote. The ballot is then inserted into a machine to begin the counting process. Polling places have been offering hand sanitizer and single-use pens for voters to take home with them.
VOTING ON ELECTION DAY
If you have not voted by Nov. 1, you will have to vote on Election Day, Nov. 3. Many people enjoy the energy of voting on Election Day, but things may be different this year because of the pandemic.
When voting on Nov. 3, you must go to the polling place that you are assigned to. You can find the address for this location on your voter registration card or on your county’s Supervisor of Election website. There’s no way to tell how long lines are going to be — some polling places are in high voter turnout communities and have lines, while others you can just walk in.
Like we said before, because of the pandemic, polling places are taking extra precautions by offering hand sanitizer and single-use pens for voters. You must also wear a mask to vote.
Also like early voting, the polls are open on Election Day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. If you are in line by 7 p.m., you will be given the chance to vote no matter the time.
A reminder that voting is not a test!
Feel free to bring your notes or a cheat sheet of the people and amendments you want to vote for. This will help ease your anxiety and also get you out the door faster.
If you feel that somehow your voting rights have been violated, call the ACLU at 1-866-OUR-VOTE.
SUPERVISOR OF ELECTION WEBSITES