Saturday, May 26, 2018
Politics

As early voting ends in Florida, answers to your voting questions

Today is the final day of early voting in Florida, and if long lines are any indication, voters should be armed with patience.

The ballot is long and complicated. And a presidential election always leads to high turnout.

Despite requests from Democrats and Democratic-leaning groups, Republican Gov. Rick Scott told the Associated Press late Thursday that he will not extend early voting, which ends at 7 p.m.

The best advice for voters: Do your homework. Research the races and questions on the lengthy ballot. (Check out tampabay.com/kyc and tampabay.com/amendments.) Find your polling place. If you're voting early, check the wait times online before you go. And maybe bring a book.

To help you, we've compiled a list of answers to frequently asked questions about voting:

When and where can I vote early?

Early-voting sites will be open Saturday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. in Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco. Hernando early voting sites are open 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Voters in line at 7 p.m. will be allowed to vote. You must vote in the county where you are registered.

Why aren't there more early-voting sites?

State law says early voting can be provided only at government buildings, such as libraries, city halls or elections supervisors' offices.

I have no party affiliation. Who can I vote for on the ballot?

Unlike in a primary election, any voter can vote for any candidate on their ballot, regardless of party affiliation.

Why do Republicans appear on the ballot before Democrats?

Under state law, the party of the governor dictates the ballot order for partisan races. Gov. Scott is a Republican.

What does "write-in" mean?

A write-in candidate who qualified to run for office but did not pay a qualifying fee or collect petition signatures to have his or her name appear on the ballot. The candidate's name must be written on the ballot by voters.

What does "at-large" mean?

A seat that serves the entire county.

Why is there no Amendment 7 on my ballot?

The Florida Supreme Court removed the proposed amendment, ruling the language was ambiguous. State lawmakers rewrote it and placed it on the ballot as Amendment 8. There are 11 amendments total.

By what percentage do ballot questions have to be approved in order to pass?

Amendments to the Florida Constitution must be approved by 60 percent-plus-1 of the electorate statewide in order to pass. Local ballot questions require 50 percent-plus-1.

Do I need to bring my voter card to my precinct or early-voting site?

No. You need to bring a valid photo and signature ID, such as a Florida driver's license or U.S. passport. An ID is not required for absentee voters, but the signature on the ballot envelope must match the signature on file at the elections office.

Can I still request an absentee ballot?

Only in person, at your county elections supervisor's office.

Do I need a reason to request an absentee ballot?

No.

How late can I mail my absentee ballot?

Absentee ballots must arrive no later than 7 p.m. on Election Day. Absentee ballot envelopes must be signed, and the signature must match the signature on record with the elections office.

What happens to my ballot after I mail it in?

If the signature on the ballot envelope matches the one on record, the ballot is opened and counted. Absentee results are the first ones reported on election night. If the signature does not match, then the ballot remains closed. A canvassing board that meets regularly before and after Election Day decides whether to accept the ballot.

How do I know my ballot counted? Is there a way to track my ballot?

You can track your absentee ballots online. Check the website of your county elections office.

Can I turn in my absentee ballot in person? If so, where?

In many counties, voters may turn in their absentee ballots in person at all early voting sites, without waiting in line. Voters should go straight to a poll worker, who will ask for photo ID before accepting the ballot.

Voters may also turn in their ballots in person through 7 p.m. on Election Day at their county elections office. Many elections offices will be open Sunday.

Voters who show up at their precincts on Election Day with an absentee ballot will be asked to cancel their absentee ballots and vote in person.

If I requested an absentee ballot and have yet to receive it, can I still vote in person?

Yes, but there's fine print. Voters will be allowed to vote in person if poll workers confirm that the elections office has not received their absentee ballot.

The absentee ballot will be canceled. If the elections department cannot determine whether it has received the voter's absentee ballot, the voter may be asked to cast a provisional ballot.

If I changed my mind, can I ask the elections department to throw away my absentee ballot and have a do-over?

No. Once an absentee ballot is cast, it cannot be revoked or amended.

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