Despite Trump’s unfounded attacks, voting by mail is still secure. Here’s a list of simple guidelines to make the process go smoothly while meeting deadlines.
This article is part of COURIER’s Your Vote 2020 hub. For more stories from each of the battleground states, along with national reporting, visit the site here.
FLORIDA—A recent letter sent by Thomas Marshall to Florida Secretary of State Laurel M. Lee, who oversees the state’s elections, issued a troubling warning ahead of the November presidential election: that its voters could be disenfranchised by delayed mail-in ballots.
The letter, which was sent to 45 other states and the District of Columbia, read in part: “Under our reading of your state’s election laws, … there is a significant risk that, at least in certain circumstances, ballots may be requested in a manner that is consistent with your election rules and returned promptly, and yet not be returned in time to be counted.’’
Here are the important dates and information you need to keep in mind regarding your mail-in vote in the Nov. 3 presidential election.
Just the Facts
- Although Florida law allows voters to request a ballot up to 10 days before Election Day, the Postal Service letter warned that in cases where a voter requests a ballot on or around that time, there is a significant risk the ballot won’t be mailed back before the state’s Election Day deadline.
- Florida mail-in votes must be sent back no later than Tuesday, Oct. 27, a week before Election Day, to be counted, the letter strongly advised.
- Ballots that are mailed in toward the end of October, or later, for the Nov. 3 presidential election might not be counted.
- Vote-by-mail ballots may also be returned at secure drop boxes at the Supervisor of Elections’ main and branch offices, and early voting sites in your county. You need to contact your Supervisor of Elections or visit its website for the location of all vote-by-mail ballot secure drop boxes in the county. Mail ballots cannot be returned at neighborhood polling places on Election Day. Make sure to check the days and hours when you can safely drop off your ballot.
- Voters can designate someone they trust to return their ballot.
People who drop off their mail-in ballots at early voting sites need to place them in the return envelope with a signature and date just as if they were placing it in the mail.
Most Important: Your Signature
A Supervisor of Elections is required to notify a voter as soon as it is practical if a voter’s signature is missing or does not match the one on record. Once a voter learns about the missing or mismatched signature, the voter may:
- Complete and return a “Vote-by-Mail Ballot Cure” Affidavit (Form DS-DE 139 (English PDF / Español PDF) with a copy of identification.
- This documentation can be returned by mail, email, fax, or in person. The deadline to submit the form and the ID is no later than 5 p.m. (local time) on the 2nd day after an election. Failure to follow the instructions may cause the ballot not to be counted.
- Using the wrong ink color can mean delays, or that your vote won’t be counted. So don’t forget to use black ink. If a voter uses another color, the ballot has to go to the Elections Canvassing Board for review.
How to Track Your Vote-By-Mail Ballot Request and Returned Ballot
Any voter who has requested a vote-by-mail ballot can track online the status of his or her ballot by:
- Checking with the Division of Elections’ Voter Information Lookup or through their county Supervisor of Elections’ website.
- The United States Postal Service also provides a free service called Informed Delivery that allows voters to digitally preview the address side of certain mail pieces, such as a requested vote-by-mail ballot, that will arrive soon at their address.