Election Day, November 6th, is just around the corner. You have 3 ways to cast your vote: Early Voting, at your precinct on Election Day, and, if you request it, by Absentee (mail) ballot. The voting method you choose could impact the likelihood your ballot will be accepted and your votes counted. As explained below, the easiest and most reliable is EARLY VOTING.
Early Voting- Best Option
Early Voting, which starts on October 22nd and continues until November 4th in Duval County, is the best method to ensure your ballot is accepted and your votes counted. That’s because if there is a problem, there is time and the ability to cure it. So for example, if you forget to bring one of the required forms of photo identification and/or any form of identification with your signature on it, you will have time to return with your required identifications. You could vote what’s called a Provisional Ballot instead, but that’s not the most reliable way to get your voted counted.
Also, if you make a mistake in filling out your ballot – such as voting for more than one candidate running for the same office – you can get another ballot to get your votes correct. Plus you have more options, any Duval County resident who is registered to vote in Florida can vote at any of the 19 Duval County Early Voting sites. Here are links to Early Voting sites in Nassau, Clay, St. Johns and Baker counties if you live there.
Election Day – Second Best Option
With Election Day voting at the polls, you must vote on November 6th at your precinct between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Lines are usually longer there than in Early Voting, especially before and after work, and if there’s a personal emergency or you’re sick, you might not make it to your precinct at all or in time. If you don’t have the required forms of identification when you go to vote, you may not have time to go home and get back. If that happens you would vote by Provisional Ballot, which is a way, but not the best way, to get your vote counted.
Absentee Ballot Voting –The Least Option, but Still an Option
Absentee Ballot voting, or voting by mail, is important if you need to do it, but it is the least forgiving method if a mistake is made. These days – with the option of Early Voting available – voting by Absentee Ballot is the option if you are going to be away from home during the Early Voting period or on Election Day or if you, or a loved one, are not physically able to go to the polling place. A recent study by The University of Florida of the State’s past two presidential elections found that errors with Absentee Voting do occur and that’s it’s 10 times more likely that absentee votes did not count.
Absentee Ballots Harder to Correct
Your Absentee Ballot must get to the Supervisor of Elections (SOE) on or before 7 p.m. on Election Day; if you mail it too late to get there on time, your votes won’t count. Also, if you don’t remember to sign the outside envelope containing your Absentee Ballot, it may not be accepted. That’s because you might not receive the SOE letter in time, advising you how to correct the missing signature with an Affidavit returned to the SOE by 5 p.m. the Monday before Election Day. Even if you did sign the outside envelope, your ballot can be rejected if your signature does not seem to match the signature on file with the SOE. And if you make a mistake in voting your Absentee ballot, such as voting for more than one candidate in a race, the election board may not be able to figure out your intent, and your vote in that race would not be counted.
Special Needs Voters
In Duval County, if you are disabled, you may choose to use the AutoMARK machine to assist you in filling out the paper ballot, or you may bring someone of your own choosing, or request 2 poll workers to assist you. The person you bring will need to fill out a form and cannot be your employer or a union leader.
Exercising our constitutional right to vote is our responsibility as citizens in our democracy. If you have questions about voting in the upcoming election, contact your local Supervisor of Elections. Check your registration status before Nov 6th.
No matter the method, PLEASE VOTE!