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Important COVID Information for Florida Voters

important information about covid and votingWhile it’s impossible to predict how the coronavirus pandemic will shape Florida’s elections in 2020, voters across Florida may be asking what measures are in place to reduce their risk of contracting the virus while exercising their right to vote.

Florida is a vote-by-mail state, where registered voters need no excuse to obtain a ballot (formerly called an ‘absentee’ ballot) either in person or by mail from their local supervisor of elections office.

[The Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections, a bipartisan group that represents all 67 county-level elections supervisors, told Gov. Ron DeSantis in an April 7, 2020 letter that ” Florida is not in a position, at this time, to conduct an all-mail ballot election this year.” They have asked the governor for a change to elections rules and additional funding so they can better accommodate the increased demand in both in-person and vote-by-mail they expect to see in Florida’s August primary and November general election.]

IF YOU PLAN TO VOTE IN-PERSON AT A POLLING LOCATION

If you wish to vote in-person during the early voting period or on Election Day, you are encouraged to observe social distancing guidelines and personal hygiene practices recommended by many communities and posted at this link by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

[Note: In Florida’s March presidential preference primary, Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee worked with county elections supervisors to ensure polling locations were provided with resources for sanitization and cleaning. She also joined chief elections officers from other states who signed on to a statement in March 2020 attesting that “voters in our states can safely and securely cast their ballots in this election.”]

IF YOU PLAN TO VOTE MY MAIL

You can request a vote-by-mail ballot online at your own supervisor of election website, or pick up your vote-by-mail ballot at the supervisor of elections office at any time once the ballot becomes available, including Election Day.

Keep in mind that if you want a ballot mailed to your residence, the deadline to request it is no later than 5 p.m. on the 10th day before the election.

August 18, 2020 Primary

The deadline to request that a Vote-by-Mail ballot be mailed to you is no later than 5 pm on Saturday, August 8. If you miss the deadline, you can visit the local supervisor of election to obtain a mail ballot.

November 3, 2020 General Election

The deadline to request that a vote-by-mail ballot be mailed to you is no later than 5 pm on Saturday, October 24.

Important!! The completed ballot must still be received, not post-marked,  by the supervisor of elections office no later than 7 p.m. on Election Day to be counted. You can also drop off a completed vote-by-mail ballot at early voting sites in the election. If you wait till Election Day, it’s recommended you bring the completed mail ballot to your local supervisor of elections.

Concerns About Rejected Vote-By-Mail Ballots

Voting-by-mail may provide a safe voting alternative during the COVID-19 public health emergency, and Florida elections officials expect to see an increase in vote-by-mail voting in the upcoming elections.

If you have concerns about your ballot being counted, you can track online the status of your ballot through a link within the Florida Division of Elections’ Voter Information Lookup, or through your county supervisor of elections’ website.

Florida law also provides that voters are given an opportunity to correct a missing or mismatched signature by completing and returning a “Vote-by-Mail Ballot Cure,” due no later than 5 p.m. on the 2nd day after an election. English || Spanish

[One of the most significant concerns with vote-by-mail balloting is the rate that mail ballots get rejected due to signature-matching issues or voter error.

Recently published research conducted on Florida’s 2018 election by the University of Florida Department of Political Science concludes that vote-by-mail is an important part of the solution, but not the full solution.

The research, conducted by undergraduate political science major Anna Baringer under the direction of Professor Dan Smith, demonstrates that a small but significant share of mail ballots are rejected for errors, varying widely  by age group, disability status, and from county to county, even though statewide standards are the same.

On average, approximately 1.2% of the 2.6 million mail ballots cast in 2018 were not counted by local election officials. The UF research showed that among voters 18-21 years old, the rejection rate rose to 5.4%. Among voters over 65, the rejection rate was just .63%.]