What You Need to Know to Vote by Mail in Florida


Martín Elfman for NPR

Emilyanne Richart, Reporter

COVID-19 has brought a change to everyone’s routines, including how they usually vote, where an influx of people are planning to vote via mail in ballots for this upcoming election. Thanks to the vote-by-mail ballot, you can vote from the safety of your home instead of going out to the polls and voting in person. In Florida though, there are certain guidelines and rules that you need to know before voting by mail, such as how to request a ballot and where to drop it off.

You have to be registered to vote before you can request a vote-by-mail ballot. This request covers “all elections through the end of the calendar year for the second ensuing regularly scheduled general election,” according to Florida Division of Elections. There is a multitude of ways to request a vote-by-mail ballot, such as filling out an online application on your county Supervisors of Election’s website. You can also write (by email, fax, mail), call, or talk in person, to Supervisor of Elections. The request must include the voter’s name, address, and date of birth. The request must also include the voter’s signature if the request is written and the request is to an address other than the one on file. The Florida Division of Elections notes that “an exception to [the signature] requirement exists for absent uniformed service voter or an overseas voter seeking a vote-by-mail ballot.”

The Florida Division of Elections states that “a voter can designate an immediate family member (the designee’s spouse or the parent, child, grandparent, or sibling of the designee or of the designee’s spouse) or the voter’s legal guardian to request the ballot on their behalf.” The requestor’s address, driver’s license number (if available), relationship to the voter, and the requestor’s signature (if the request is written), are all needed to request a ballot. Note that the “deadline to request that a vote-by-mail ballot be mailed is no later than 5 p.m. on the 10th day before the election,” according to the Florida Division of Elections.

Supervisors of Elections send the vote-by-mail ballots during a 7-day window between 33 and 40 days before an election. For the General Election, this window will be September 24th through October 1st.

The United States Postal Service recommends that voters mail their ballots at least 1 week before the Election Day deadline (the general election is November 3rd.) Vote-by-mail ballots can be returned at secure drop boxes at the Supervisor of Elections’ main and branch offices. You can also drop off your ballot at early voting sites in your county. For any additional information, such as the deadlines for absentee voting, Election Day, and early voting, you can go to Vote.org.