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What You Need to Vote in Florida Elections

Early registration, identification and provisional ballots in Florida

Voting in Florida requires planning. The state has a very early voter registration deadline: 29 days prior to an election. For point of reference, there are currently 16 states and the District of Columbia that allow election-day registration. For the Aug. 28, 2018 primary election, the deadline to register to vote in Florida was July 30, 2018; and for the Nov. 6, 2018 general election, registration closed on Oct. 9, 2018. The first step to voting is ensuring you are registered. Early voting is possible with vote by mail, with a vote-by-mail ballot, which needs to be mailed to the elections office 10 days before the election.

Are you registered?

Under Florida law, you cannot vote unless you have previously registered. Voters must be at least 18 years old (although Florida residents can register as early as age 16—it’s called pre-registration). Voters must also be legal residents of the U.S., the state of Florida, and the county in which they will vote. Use the Florida voter information look-up website to see if you are registered.

If you are already registered, but need to update your address, voters can submit a change through the online voter registration website or by contacting their county supervisor of elections. If not registered, voters can register online or fill out a voter registration application and file it with their county supervisor of elections. Florida law appears to allow election officials to deny a ballot to a voter permanently residing outside the precinct county, so voters must ensure they update their addresses well before the election.

Bring identification to the polls

Florida is a voter-ID law state. The state requires a photo ID with signature when going to the polling place to vote. Under Florida law, the state accepts at least 12 different forms of ID, including:

  • Florida driver’s license
  • Florida identification card issued by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles
  • United States passport
  • debit or credit card
  • military identification
  • student ID card
  • retirement center identification
  • neighborhood association identification
  • public assistance identification
  • veteran health identification card issued by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs
  • license to carry a concealed weapon or firearm
  • employee identification card issued by any branch, department, agency, or entity of the Federal Government, the state, a county, or a municipality

If the voter’s picture identification does not contain a signature, the election official will ask for an additional form of ID with the voter’s signature.

What happens when denied right to vote?

If a voter does not furnish an acceptable form of ID, or is denied the right to vote in any way, under Florida law, the voter is entitled to a provisional ballot from an election official at the polling place. The provisional ballot allows the voter to vote until their eligibility can be determined. If more information is required to verify a voter’s right to vote, the voter will be given up to two days after the election to produce the necessary information.

The county canvassing board will examine each provisional ballot to determine if the person voting that ballot was entitled to vote at the precinct where the person cast a vote in the election. A ballot of a person casting a provisional ballot shall be counted unless the canvassing board determines by a preponderance of the evidence that the person was not entitled to vote.

Can my registration be purged?

Yes, Florida voters can be removed from the voting rolls under certain circumstances. If a Florida voter moves out-of-state and registers to vote in their new state, the Florida elections supervisor will remove that person from the voting rolls. Inactive voters may also be removed from the voter registration roll. An inactive voter is a voter that has not registered or voted in two subsequent general elections (general elections occur every two years). If the voter does not respond to an address confirmation postcard sent by the state, the voter is removed. Otherwise, a voter may be removed if found ineligible to vote. To restore the right to vote, the voter must file a new voter registration application.

If a voter or group of voters has issues with interference with their right to vote, they should seek the advice of an experienced Florida election law attorney. For more information on this area of law, see our civil rights overview.

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