ORLANDO, Fla. – Voting for the 2020 Presidential election is underway as mail-in ballots are being returned, early voting dates quickly approach, and Election Day is almost here.
Many will head to the polls to cast their ballot for current President Donald Trump or the Democratic nominee Joe Biden. Voters will also be faced with several other decisions, as they must vote on several important amendments this year.
COVID-19 has complicated the voting process but thankfully, millions of voters plan to vote-by-mail in Florida. Others can head to the polls for early voter or keep socially distant in line on Election Day.
STAY INFORMED: Complete coverage and the latest updates on the 2020 election
However you vote and whoever you vote for, FOX 35 has everything you need to know about the 2020 Presidential election.
ARE YOU REGISTERED TO VOTE?
The deadline to register to vote in Florida is October 5th.
You can find out if you are registered to vote on the Florida Department of State website. Just enter your first name, last name, and birth date into the database. If you are registered to vote, it will tell you your voter identification number, date of registration, party affiliation, voter status, and the county you are registered in. If you are not registered to vote, no record of your voter registration will be presented.
If you are not registered, you can do so on the Florida Department of State website.
To be eligible to register to vote, you must:
Be a citizen of the United States of America;Be a legal resident of Florida;Be a legal resident of the county in which you seek to be registered;Be at least 16 years old to preregister or at least 18 years old to register and vote;Not be a person who has been adjudicated mentally incapacitated with respect to voting in Florida or any other state without having the right to vote restored; and,Not be a person convicted of a felony without having your right to vote restored.
To submit an application, you will need:
A Florida driver license or a Florida identification card issued by the Florida Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles.The issued date of your choice of identification.The last four digits of your social security number.
If you need further assistance regarding registering to vote or your voter registration, please call the Voter Assistance Hotline at 1-866-308-6739. It operates between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
HOW AND WHERE TO VOTE
While public health experts recommend voting-by-mail to slow the spread of COVID-19, you still can choose to vote in person by either early voting or voting on election day.
Early voting begins in Central Florida on October 19th and goes until October 31st or November 1st, depending on the county you live in. You must bring a form of identification with you, like a driver’s license, passport, military ID, student ID, or retirement center ID.
Polling locations and their hours of operations can be found by clicking your county below:
Election Day is Tuesday, November 3rd between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. As with early voting, you must bring along a form of identification, like a driver’s license, passport, military ID, student ID, or retirement center ID.
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Find the nearest polling locations to you by clicking your county below:
Public health experts suggest that if you choose to vote in person, follow these guidelines to help you and those around you stay safe:
Wear a mask and disinfectMaintain a good physical distance of at least six feetFill out a sample ballot before comingHead to the polls at off-peak hoursTry to reduce your risk of transmission leading up to the 2020 election
A vote-by-mail ballot refers to a ballot that you request and pick-up or have delivered to you without having to vote at the polls during early voting or on Election Day. A voter must first be registered to vote before he or she can request a vote-by-mail ballot.
In Florida, you have to specifically request a mail-in ballot in order to receive one. A request for a vote-by-mail ballot may be made in one of the following ways:
Online application on your county Supervisors of Elections’ website;By other writing (e.g., by email, fax, mail) to Supervisor of Elections;In person at Supervisor of Elections;By telephone call to Supervisor of Elections.
To make sure your vote counts, there are several things to know about early voting in Florida and voting by mail in 2020. Here are the basics; scroll down the page for your specific county information.
Last day to request a mail-in ballot: Saturday, October 24 at 5 p.m. Florida law says mail-in ballots must be requested by 5 p.m. the 10th day before the election
First day that mail-in ballots are sent out: September 24. Florida law says mail-in ballots are to be sent 40 to 33 days before the election, with military/overseas no later than 45 days before the election.
Mail-in ballots must arrive by: November 3 at 7 p.m. The date on which your ballot is postmarked is irrelevant; it must arrive at the elections office by 7 p.m. the night of the election. You can deliver it by hand if you forget to mail it in time.
Can you still go to the polls on election day?
If the voter decides to go to the polls to vote, the voter should bring the vote-by-mail ballot (marked or not). The vote-by-mail ballot will be canceled and the voter can vote a regular ballot at the polls.
If the voter comes to the polls without the vote-by-mail ballot, the voter can vote a regular ballot if the supervisor of elections’ office can confirm that it has not received the voter’s vote-by-mail ballot. If it is confirmed that the supervisor of elections office has already received the voted vote-by-mail ballot or it cannot be determined, the voter cannot vote a regular ballot at the polls.
How do I track my vote-by-mail ballot?
Any voter who has requested a vote-by-mail ballot can track online the status of his or her ballot through a link within 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 you to digitally preview the address side of certain mail pieces such as a requested vote-by-mail ballot that will arrive soon at your address.
WHAT IS ON THE BALLOT?
President Donald Trump and his Vice President Mike Pence are running for reelection in 2020. His opponents are Democratic Nominee Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.
See where the presidential candidates stand on issues like climate change, abortion, COVID-19, criminal justice reform, the economy, education, foreign policy, guns, health care, immigration, and more HERE.
Photo by Sean Rayford & Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Florida voters will decide on six amendments this year, including one that would change how residents elect state leaders and another that would raise the minimum wage. A summary of the amendments are linked below:
U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rick Scott (R-FL) are not up for re-election this year, but all members of the U.S. House of Representatives are on the ballot. Florida is divided into 27 congressional districts.
A total of 20 of 40 Florida Senate seats are up for election in 2020 along with all 120 Florida State House seats, though many candidates are unopposed or won their primary contest in August.
Florida law requires Florida Supreme Court justices and Florida District Courts of Appeal judges to be placed on the ballot for “merit retention” elections. Those whose terms expire on January 2021 or those were appointed by the Governor since the last Genreal Elecction will be on the ballot, including one Florida Supreme Court justice and 24 appeals court judges.
Election of some county offices vary by county. Contact your county Supervisor of Elections to determine the manner of election for these offices.
HOW TO REPORT A VOTING OR POLLING PROBLEM
Voters who observe issues at the polls and are concerned about elections fraud should call the Voter Fraud Hotline at 1-877-868-3737. It operates Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. You can also file a complaint with the date, time, place, and as much information as you can gather via PDF on the Florida Divisions of Election website.
SIGN UP TO BE A POLL WORKER
Polling locations across Central Florida still need workers for Election Day as many have had staffing issues because of employees worried about their health.
The duties of a poll worker include reporting to the polling place early on Election Day, assist in setting up the polling place, assist other workers when necessary, treat the voters in a courteous manner, follow voting procedures, and assist in closing the polls.
Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images
To become a poll worker, you must:
Be a registered voterProvide a Social Security number Be able to speak, read, and write the English language.Attend a mandatory training class before each electionBe present on Election Day before opening and stay until after the polls closeBe available to work a minimum of 14 hours on Election DayPerform all duties for your position as assignedBe willing to represent the county well and remain non-partisan in publicYou are not an immediate family member of a candidate or are working on a candidate’s campaign
If you want to help fill the shortage of poll workers this year, you can sign up with the county resources referenced below.
Tune in to FOX 35 Orlando for the latest updates on the 2020 election.