Is it your first time voting? Here are 3 things to know about the Florida ballot

If you have questions about this year's ballot, we've got you covered.
Published Oct. 24, 2018

Confused about the Florida ballot? You're not alone.

This November 6, voters are asked to choose a new governor, a new Florida Cabinet, a U.S. Senator, a U.S. Representative and whether to add a dozen amendments to the Florida Constitution — to say nothing of other state and local races and initiatives.  The sheer number of decisions a citizen must make this election cycle would require even the most seasoned politico to do some research.

We're here to help. Here are three things to know about the Florida ballot.

1. You don't have to fill your ballot all the way out for it to count.

The best way to vote is to first get informed on all of the local and statewide races and ballot initiatives. The Times has created a trove of resources to help you do just that. Check out our voter guide, read up on your local school board races and read our explainer on the constitutional amendments for more information on the people and policies that will soon govern you. If you're so inclined, you could even check out the Tampa Bay Times editorial board recommendations. Whether you agree with its picks or not, the board often provides good context — particularly in local races. (The editorial board represents the institutional opinion of the newspaper and does not influence its news operation.)

However, if you are truly undecided about a race, that's no reason to avoid voting on the issues you do feel passionately about. For instance, if you don't know how to vote on a certain constitutional amendment, you have the option to not weigh in. Your votes on other candidates and initiatives will still count.

A candidate running for office wins if he or she gets more votes than his or her opponent. An amendment is added to the Florida Constitution if it gets the support of 60 percent of the people who vote one way or the other on the amendment.

2. You can vote by mail or in person.

You can vote in two different ways: by mail or in person. If you want to vote by mail, you can do so as long as your ballot is received by your county's elections supervisor by 7 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 6, 2018. You can request a mail-in ballot up to six days before Election Day. For more information about voting by mail, click here.

If you want to vote in person, you can either vote before Election Day via early voting or on the day itself, Nov. 6. Find your assigned precinct by visiting your county's supervisor of elections website, and be sure to bring the proper identification to your polling place. (You can also bring a cheat sheet with your picks already laid out!)

State law requires voters to bring a government-issued photo ID and a signature verification. (A driver's license counts for both. If you have one, bring that.) For more information about in-person voting, click here.

3. You can make sure your vote was counted.

If you decide to vote by mail, you can verify with your county's elections supervisor that they've received your ballot.

If you vote in person, it is possible that you could run into problems with your identification. If the signature on your ID does not match the one you provide, your ID is out of date, your address doesn't match the county's records — or you run into any other bureaucratic obstacle — you could have your right to vote challenged.

Don't panic if this happens. You can always request a provisional ballot. As long as you follow up with your county's supervisor of elections within two days after the election, you should be able to provide evidence that will allow your vote to count. Check out more information about provisional ballots here.