Monday, Oct. 19 marks the first day of early voting — even so, more than 2.5 million Floridians have already cast their vote by turning in their ballots by mail, according to the Florida Division of Elections.
As early voting begins, here’s what you need to know to vote in the 2020 General Election:
VOTING IN PERSON
During early voting, Florida voters can vote at any early voting precinct in their county. This is different than when you vote on Election Day — in that case, you must vote in the precinct you have been assigned to (you can find that location on your voter registration card or on the Supervisor of Elections website).
Voting in person is from Oct. 19 to Nov. 1 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. In Monroe County, voting hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Early voting is convenient for people who don’t have a flexible schedule and could use the extra time to make their way to the polls. In Florida, you must bring a form of ID — typically, people bring their driver’s license. Ballots here 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.
Due to COVID-19, you must wear a mask when waiting in line and voting. Precincts have been providing hand sanitizer as well as giving each voter a pen for them to take home, rather than sharing them.
Locations for early voting are:
VOTING BY MAIL
There is also still the option to vote by mail. While this is not a new method of voting, many people this year are opting to mail in their ballot due to the coronavirus. If you are immunocompromised, or you simply don’t want to wait in a line, you can always mail in your ballot.
If you haven’t requested your mail-in ballot, you need to move fast — the deadline is Oct. 24. Visit your county’s Supervisor of Election website to request one, or you can also call, go in person, or write to the office. You will receive your ballot in the mail and voting rights advocates recommend that you mail it back as soon as possible to ensure that your vote is counted in time.
Be sure to follow all the instructions on your ballot to make sure your vote is counted — the most common mistake voters make is not signing the envelope. 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!
You can get more information on voting by mail at the Florida Department of State’s website.
DROPPING OFF YOUR BALLOT
A mix of voting in person and mailing in a ballot, during early voting, you can drop off your filled-out ballot you got in the mail at any early voting site. Some people have been wary of their ballot getting lost in the mail, so this is a way to reduce your time at the precinct.
After Nov. 1, you will not be able to drop off your ballot at an early voting site. You will have to fill out a brand-new ballot on Nov. 3, Election Day.
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. Some people also prefer to vote by mail so that they can take their time at home to fill out their ballot.
You can research candidates and amendments by visiting the League of Women Voters of Florida, endorsements from newspapers, the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, SAVE Action PAC, and other groups.
The most important thing is that you vote, no matter what method you use! If you feel that somehow your voting rights have been violated, call the ACLU at 1-866-OUR-VOTE.
SUPERVISOR OF ELECTION WEBSITES
- Palm Beach County: pbcelections.org
- Broward County: browardsoe.org
- Miami-Dade County: miamidade.gov/global/elections/home.page
- Monroe County: keys-elections.org