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The presidential election is a national phenomenon, but voting is a local endeavor. Jump to sections: Registering to vote Mail voting Drop boxes In-person voting How votes are counted How to be a pollworker Do you have more questions? The Tampa Bay Times is committed to providing information on all the rules and deadlines around elections in Florida so you can cast your vote and have it counted. In this crucial election year, information about voting — not all of it accurate — seems to be everywhere.

The votes that Floridians cast will be key not only in deciding the presidential race, but will also shape the direction of our local and state communities for years to come. You can register online at RegisterToVoteFlorida. You can also register to vote by mail or in person.

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You must be a U. The original deadline to register to vote was Oct. The deadline to register to vote in time for the general election has now passed. You should check before the election to make sure that your voter registration information is correct. If you have moved or need to make other changes to your existing voter registration, you can still do so after the voter registration deadline.

If you plan to vote by mail, you should make sure that your ature is up to date. Why am I getting texts or mail saying I may not be registered to vote or may not be ed up for mail ballots? Mailers from organizations like the nonprofit Voter Participation Center have gone out to voters across Florida and the United States. While the organizations in many cases may be well-meaning, they have been criticized at times for causing confusion if a message is sent to an ineligible voter or someone who is already registered or already ed up to receive a mail ballot.

There is no handy list of unregistered voters, which makes voter registration efforts tricky.

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The state itself has run into issues with this. The Florida Department of State in September sent out postcards to 2. But elections officials say the list included some people who were registered but whose personal information is protected from public records. The Leon County Supervisor of Elections even received such a postcard from the state, according to the Tallahassee Democrat. Voters can call or visit their county supervisor of elections office, fill out a written request and send it in, or fill out a request form online.

Each county elections office in Florida has a link to an online vote-by-mail request form. Voters will need to provide their name, address and date of birth. If the request is made in writing and is to an address other than the one on file, you will also need to provide your ature. Beginning inFlorida began allowing anyone who wants a mail ballot to request one. You do not need to be out of town or sick or have any other excuse to request a ballot. In general, requests for mail ballots stand through the calendar year of two general elections.

The deadline to request a ballot be mailed to your home has now passed. That deadline was Oct. However, voters can still choose to pick up a mail ballot from their county elections office through the day before the election. Voters can also request a mail ballot on Election Day in the event of an emergency. Voters can call their county elections office or check online to see whether their request for a mail ballot is listed on file. Voters who request a mail ballot can still choose to vote in person instead, elections officials say. A voter choosing to instead vote in person should bring their mail ballot with them to the voting site and hand it in and an election worker would mark the mail ballot as canceled and provide the voter with a regular ballot.

If a voter does not bring the mail ballot with them, they can still vote if election workers can confirm that the voter has not already voted by mail. If poll workers cannot confirm that a voter has not already voted by mail, the voter may have to vote by provisional ballot, meaning the canvassing board would decide later whether to count the vote. Mail-in ballots must be received — not postmarked — by 7 p.

Overseas voters get an extra 10 days to mail back their vote-by-mail ballots in general elections. Postal Service. Should I be worried about my mail ballot? Recent operational changes at the Postal Service appears to have at least temporarily slowed down mail delivery in some parts of the country, although Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has said that election Looking for emailtext fun w mw m Tampa Florida would be prioritized.

Only some counties in Florida provide return postage on vote-by-mail ballots, although a growing are opting to do so amid the coronavirus pandemic. At least 24 counties say they will pay return postage for the November election. Both Pinellas and Pasco counties are starting to pay for return postage amid the pandemic, while Hillsborough County has already been paying for return postage for a of years. Hernando County does not currently pay for return postage for mail ballots. But while the U.

Postal Service stresses that appropriate postage be affixed, it has long had a policy of not delaying election mail due to insufficient postage. In many cases when that happens, the post office will deliver the mail and charge the county elections office. How would I know whether my ballot was counted?

After putting their filled-in ballot in the mail, voters can track online to see whether their county supervisor of elections office has received their mailed ballots. A vote-by-mail cure affidavit must be submitted by 5 p. Elections officials look at the ature on the mail ballot envelope and compare it to the ature on file to see if it matches.

That makes it important for voters to make sure the ature on file is updated. Daniel Smith, a University of Florida political science professor who specializes in elections, has found that mail ballots are more likely to be rejected than ballots cast in person, and that the main reasons mail ballots were rejected were because of missing or mismatched atures. Smith has found that rejection rates varied widely by county and often disproportionately affect younger people and minorities.

Florida law recently changed to provide more time for voters to cure their mail ballots and requires elections officials to try to reach the voter by phone,text message and usually by mail to let them know if their ballot was rejected so they can try to cure the issue. The mail ballot envelope was modified to include spaces for voters to put their contact information.

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It depends on the county. Some, such as Hillsborough County, do include stickers for voters with the other materials in vote-by-mail packets. Others, including Pinellas County, do not. More on drop boxes below. I heard some counties are debuting new technology to help people with disabilities complete their mail ballots?

The settlement, approved this summer, requires every Florida county to have an accessible vote-by-mail system in place by the end of March Voters in the pilot counties would be able to mark their ballot electronically using a web interface through a system called the Democracy Live OmniBallot. Voters would still have to print out the ballot, the envelope and mail or return it like other mail ballots.

Counties have set up drop boxes in different ways, with some offering drive-through options, some having hour drop boxes and others more simply offering secure boxes within elections offices and early voting sites. Some of the boxes are small and portable, while others have drop boxes that look like fortified mail boxes and are bolted to the ground and others use a slot in a wall of a building that drops into a secured room or box. Voters wanting to drop their mail ballots off in a drop box rather than putting them in the mail should still ensure their ballot and envelope are properly completed, including putting their ature on the envelope.

Florida law now requires counties to have secure drop boxes at supervisor of elections office and at each early voting site. A couple counties said they did not have drop boxes in place for the August primary but plan to have them for November. Counties can also choose to place drop boxes at certain other sites, although few counties have opted to do that so far. Pinellas County is one of them; it is offering drop boxes at 25 sites for the November general election, even though it has only five early voting sites for the general election. Check with your county elections supervisor for details on the locations of the drop boxes.

Check with your county supervisor of elections office for details on when drop boxes will become available and during what hours or days. Some counties are offering hour drop boxes, while others are only making them available during business or early voting hours. However, voters who received a mail ballot and instead want to vote in person can do so by bringing in their mail ballot and exchanging it for a regular ballot at their polling place. A Tampa Bay Times survey of county elections offices found that many required drop boxes be manned by elections staff at all times.

Counties reported using locks and seals to ensure against tampering. Counties with hour drop boxes have said the boxes are monitored by surveillance cameras. The Trump campaign sued to block elections officials in Pennsylvania from using official drop boxes in places other than an elections office. It argued in part that the drop boxes could increase the potential for ballot fraud or tampering, including ballot harvesting, which is illegal in that state. When ordered by a federal court judge to provide evidence for its claims of issues with fraud, the campaign offered no evidence of fraud specifically tied to drop boxes or to mail ballots, according to Type Investigationswhich reviewed the partially redacted response from the campaign.

Unlike some other states, Florida law allows people to collect completed ballots as long as they are not paid to do so. Except in Miami-Dadewhich has a county code limiting any deee from returning more than two ballots per election, there is no limit to how many completed mail ballots one person can turn in. Any registered voter can opt to vote at any early voting location in their county. Every county is required to offer early voting from Oct.

Counties can also opt to offer early voting on certain other days, beginning as early as Oct. You can check with your county elections offices for locations and hours of early voting:. The state also has a full list of early voting locations Looking for emailtext fun w mw m Tampa Florida days on its website. In most counties, on Nov. Voters should make sure to check with their county supervisor of elections to make sure their polling place has not changed.

Across the state, there are hundreds fewer polling places in than there were in Some of that has come amid increasing popularity of voting by mail and other changes, but the coronavirus pandemic has also contributed to polling place closures in some parts of the state. Last-minute changes to polling places, whether because of the coronavirus, a burst water pipe or other issues, may happen.

Elections officials are supposed to notify voters of any changes to their polling places, but it is also important to check before you head out on Election Day. You will need to present a valid photo ID with ature. Polls are open from 7 a. Any voters waiting in line at 7 p.

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Elections officials have updated cleaning protocols, equipped elections workers with protective equipment like gloves and face shields and added other protections, like spacing out voting booths, providing disposable pens or adding plexiglass barriers between election workers and voters.

To date, there has not been evidence of actual transmission in polling places here in the United States, said Dr. Still, there are certainly coronavirus-related risks of exposure of going to indoor public places. And there have been a few cases here in Florida where election workers have tested positive after working at a polling place or early voting location.

Short answer: all legitimate votes are counted, regardless of whether cast by mail, at an early voting site, at a Nov. In Florida, elections officials are actually able to begin processing mail ballots through tabulating equipment well before Nov. That means mail ballots are often among the first reported by counties when start coming out.

Even before the coronavirus, Florida law allowed elections supervisors to begin canvassing mail ballots 22 days before the election. Ron DeSantis has expanded that amid the pandemic this year, allowing elections officials to begin that process even earlier. Voters can opt to abstain from voting in a race. The other votes on the ballot will still be tallied. First, looking only at Florida: Because elections officials will have been able to tabulate mail ballots as well as ballots from early in-person voting before Election Day, a ificant chunk of the vote totals should already be known as soon as polls close.

Certainly, there will still be many mail ballots to be processed on the night of Nov. In close contests, it may naturally take longer to know the winner. And if a race goes to a recount, it will take even longer. Please also look at questions related to curing mail ballots and the deadline for returning overseas mail ballots. Nationally, some states that are expecting to see jumps in the of people voting by mail are not set up to start the time-consuming process of counting mail ballots until Election Day, and that includes some battleground states in the presidential race.

Some states also accept mail ballots as long as they are postmarked by Nov. Elections experts warn that that means Americans need to have more patience and be prepared for a potential delay in knowing the winner of a close race. One other note: Experts warn that voters watching as they come in should not be surprised if an early leader in a race does not end up winning.

National polls have suggested that Democrats are much more likely to vote by mail than Republicans, who are more likely to favor in-person voting.

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