Answering Florida voters' questions before they head to the polls

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story is a corrected version of one posted earlier. See below for an explanation.

Tuesday's election is expected to draw a record number of voters. While voting is a right, it also carries certain responsibilities — in fact, state law says it's up to the voter to bring proper identification to the polls, be familiar with how to use the voting equipment and know the hours and locations for voting.

Here are a few commonly asked questions about what you should do and what might happen.

How long will the lines be?

Peak times, such as early morning, lunch and after work, will be the busiest and there could be waits of an hour in some locations.

What sort of identification should I bring to the polls?

Valid IDs include a Florida driver's license or an ID card issued by the state; a U.S. passport; a debit or credit card with your picture on it; a military ID; a student ID; a retirement center ID card; a neighborhood association identification, and a public assistance ID. If your ID does not include both your photo and your signature, you need to bring in something with your signature on it. If you fail to bring any ID, you might be required to cast a provisional ballot, and then it's up to the canvassing board to decide if your vote counts.

Can I vote anywhere there's a polling place?

No. You have to vote in the precinct where you're registered. If you don't know where that is, contact your county elections supervisor (see contact information inside).

I was sent an absentee ballot but I didn't use it. Can I still vote in person?

Yes, but you should take your blank absentee ballot with you and turn it in. Otherwise you could be required to cast a provisional ballot, so the canvassing board can make sure you're not trying to vote twice.

Is it too late to mail my absentee ballot?

Your absentee ballot must arrive at the elections supervisor's office no later than 7 p.m. Tuesday to count. So if you believe mailing it today will get it there tomorrow, you're good. But to be 100 percent sure that your ballot is counted, you should drop it off at your county election supervisor's office. Absentee ballots won't count if received after Election Day, regardless of the postmarked date.

Can I wear a button or a T-shirt supporting my candidate?

Yes. But you are not allowed to actively campaign inside the polling place, so let your shirt or pin do your talking for you.

Can I bring my children with me to the polls?

Yes. But you'd be a smart parent to bring them something to keep them entertained during the wait.

My mother has a disability. Can I help her vote?

Yes. A disabled voter can bring someone into the booth for assistance. Ask a poll worker if there's a form you need to fill out first. A voter can also ask the poll workers for help. And each precinct will have a touchscreen machine as an option for disabled voters.

If I am still waiting in line to vote when the polls close at 7 p.m., will I be turned away?

Generally, poll workers allow anyone in line at closing to vote, as long as you're willing to keep waiting.

Will we get election results Tuesday night?

If we do, they will be unofficial. Election officials count absentee ballots first, then it's a matter of how fast the computers in 67 counties can tabulate the results from all the optical scans. Official results are days away, as the state considers any absentee ballot mailed by Tuesday to be part of the tally. Plus, counties have two days to consider whether to count each provisional ballot cast on Election Day.

CORRECTION: Completed absentee ballots must be at your elections supervisor's offices by 7 p.m. Tuesday to count. They won't be counted if received later. An earlier version of this story posted online contained incorrect information.

>>fast facts

Contact us

Have trouble at the polls on Tuesday? Please let us know what happened, when it happened and where it happened. E-mail pollreports@tampabay.com or call (727)893-8924.

Have more voting questions?

Contact your elections supervisor.

Pinellas: www.votepinellas.com or call (727) 464-6108

Hillsborough: www.votehillsborough.org or call (813) 272-5850

Pasco: www.pascovotes.com or toll-free 1-800-851-8754

Hernando: www.hernandovotes.com or (352) 754-4125

Answering Florida voters' questions before they head to the polls 11/02/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 4, 2008 4:36pm]

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