How Florida Voters Can Avoid Making Common Vote-By-Mail Ballot Mistakes

Anjenys Gonzalez-Eilert, Executive Director of Common Cause Florida

In Florida, almost 5.5 million voters have already applied to vote by mail this election.  At Common Cause Florida, our top priority is making sure that voters have options in how they cast their ballots whether in-person during early voting or election day or vote by mail.

If you are voting by mail, here’s how you can ensure your ballot arrives safely in the Supervisor of Elections’ office before 7 pm on Election Day and is counted.

To learn about how you can avoid making common vote-by-mail (VBM) ballot mistakes that could result in your VBM ballot not being processed quickly or counted correctly, read on — then, use our sharing tool to send this information to your friends and family members.

When applying for your vote by mail ballot:

  • First, make sure you are registered at your current address. After filling-in the required information, you can find this information by clicking on “Access Ballot and Precinct Information” in the lower left-hand corner.
  • If your address is correct, find your Supervisor of Elections Office (SOE) and locate the Vote-By-Mail webpage where you will find a Vote-By-Mail Request form.*
  • Next, fill out the ballot request form completely, including a confirmed email address and submit it.
  • Track your ballot request and later, your ballot here. That way, you’ll know whether it was received and accepted. VBM ballots are mailed within 48 hours of a request.

*You can also make a request by telephone, mail, email, fax or in person.*

County supervisors’ offices began mailing ballots on September 24th.

Vote-By-Mail (VBM) Ballots are mailed within 48-hours of a request.

After you receive your ballot:

  • Read all instructions provided carefully.
  • Fill out your ballot. Use a blue or black pen to completely fill-in the oval next to your choices. 
  • Place the ballot (all pages) in the Privacy Sleeve.  (Please note: failure to include the secrecy sleeve DOES NOT invalidate the ballot.)
  • Only put one voter’s ballot in each envelope! If you put multiple voters’ ballots in the same envelope, they will not be counted.
  • Sign and date the Voter’s Certificate on the outside envelope once sealed. A signature as Power of Attorney will not be accepted.
  • Add your email address, home and cell phone numbers so the SOE can reach you if there are any issues with your signature.
  • Don’t forget to track your ballot!

Signature Update Information:

  • Your signature is important to the vote-by-mail process, as you’ll have to sign a Voter’s Certificate on the back of the return envelope.
  • It’s common for a voter’s signature to change over time, so you may need to update it. While an exact match of a voter’s signature isn’t required, the signature must reasonably match the signature the county has on file.
  • Signature updates have to be completed before your VBM ballot is received by the county. You can do this by using the voter registration form linked here, or found at your SOE office or public library. Your signature must be original, not electronic.

VBM Ballot Pickup:

  • The deadline to request that a VBM ballot be mailed to you is Saturday, October 24th at 5 pm. A voter can pick up their own VBM ballot at any time once the ballot becomes available, including Election Day.
  • You can have a person — also known as a designee — request and return a vote-by-mail ballot for you. They can pick up a ballot but no earlier than 9 days before Election Day, and they must submit an affidavit to pick-up the voter’s blank ballot.
  • If a voter or designee waits until Election Day to pick up or have delivered a vote-by-mail ballot, the Election Day VBM Ballot Delivery Affidavit must also be completed.
  • The voter must affirm that an emergency exists that keeps the voter from being able to vote at his or her assigned polling place. 

When returning your ballot:

  • You can return your ballot in one of three ways: 
  • If you mail your ballot, do so as early as possible to ensure timely delivery. 
  • After Tuesday, October 27, it is too late to mail a VBM Ballot.
  • All ballots MUST be received by the Supervisors of Election no later than 7pm on Election Day.  
  • Please note: Florida is a “received by” state. No postmarks are used for domestic VBM ballots.

Other important things to remember:

  • You can only vote once. A person who requested and returned a Vote-by-Mail ballot to the Supervisor of Elections office may not go to the polls to vote.
  • If you’ve changed your mind about vote-by-mail and would rather vote in-person, you can still do so. Bring your VBM ballot (blank or filled out) with you to your polling place, where they will cancel the ballot and you can vote by regular ballot tabulated by the scanner.
  • If you make a mistake while filling out your ballot (and you still have your ballot in-hand), you can call your Supervisor of Elections Office and request a new ballot.
  • Do not panic if you receive more than one vote by mail ballot request form in the mail! Ballot request forms are being sent by multiple groups, regardless of whether voters have already applied or wish to.
  • If there is an issue with your signature, you will be contacted by the SOE by first-class mail, and by any other contact information you have provided.  There will also be a notice when you track your ballot online.  Follow the instructions on how to “cure” your missing or mismatched signature provided by the SOE.

It’s crucial that your family and friends have this information. You can play a critical role in ensuring that their ballots are counted in the November election.

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