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  1. Opinion

Bob Graham and Jeb Bush say your vote will count | Column

The two former governors come together for the good of the state they led.

While we come from different parties, and may have different viewpoints, we also share much in common. We both served two terms as governor of this great state, we both ran for president ourselves, we both call Miami home, and we both understand just how important Florida is in selecting the next president.

 Former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham
Former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham [ File photo ]

In many ways, we are a microcosm of America: a state whose residents come from all corners of our country, as well as from all around the globe. Every four years, Florida plays a vital role in charting the direction of our nation. In 20 of the last 22 presidential elections, the winner has carried Florida. With 29 electoral votes, Florida is the largest — and in recent history, the most competitive of all the battleground states. This year will be no different, and the winner, whether it be president Trump or former Vice President Biden is likely to carry the Sunshine State. As Floridians, we have an important job ahead of us.

Former Gov. Jeb Bush
Former Gov. Jeb Bush

This year, there is more misinformation than ever before being shared about the process of voting, the security of ballots, the accuracy of counts, and the confidence we can all have in results. This is why we have come together — as a Republican and Democrat — but more importantly, as Floridians who care deeply about this state, to share our thoughts.

First, Floridians should cast a ballot with the knowledge that their ballot will be counted, and that every legal vote will be tallied. Over the last 20 years, many changes have been made to our process — changes that have led to a voting system that is efficient, secure and professional. Laws are specific to the time in which ballots are counted, how results are released — and even how voters can correct problems, such as a mismatched signature on a vote by mail ballot.

Secondly, unlike many other states, Florida’s ballots are counted quickly — and we will know virtually all of the state’s results on election night. When you return a vote by mail ballot, or vote in-person at an early voting location, the process of tabulating those ballots happens in real time, allowing counties to quickly compile results on election night.

Thirdly, voting in Florida is very easy and accessible. There are many options for convenience — voting from home, voting in-person early, which in many counties began last Monday, 15 days before Election Day, or voting in your precinct on Election Day on Nov. 3. As a Floridian, your responsibilities are pretty simple: Bring an ID to the polls if you vote in person, study up on the entire ballot — including the local and state amendments. If you vote by mail, make sure you sign the back of the ballot envelope, and if you mail it back, keep in mind your ballot has to be in your local election’s office by 7 p.m. — so mail it back early. You can also drop off your ballot at your local elections office, or at drop boxes in your community.

Next, know your rights. If you forget your ID on election day, you can still vote a provisional ballot — and the local canvassing board can determine your eligibility by matching your signature. Also, you can track your vote by mail ballot at the website of your local Supervisor of Elections, and if there is a signature issue on your vote by mail ballot, you are allowed to go to your local office and provide identification to remedy this so your vote will count.

And finally, know that if we do end up in a statewide recount, just like we did three times in 2018, the laws are very specific about what triggers a recount, and what the deadlines are for recounting ballots.

In many ways, Florida is a model for administering elections. We have confidence in our process, and you should as well. As citizens, all of us now have the most important job — the job of voter. Florida has earned the reputation of being an election decider, so please take this responsibility seriously, study up, and go vote. On Election Night, the nation will quite literally be turning to us.

Bob Graham was Florida’s 38th governor, and Jeb Bush was the 43rd.

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