VIDEO SPECIAL: Florida Voter Rights, Facts vs. Myths
By Space Coast Daily // July 13, 2014
ABOVE VIDEO: Brevard County Supervisor of Elections Lori Scott clarifies Florida’s voting ID laws, which accept multiple forms of ID, including public assistance. Scott also explains provisional ballots and absentee ballots.
Below are a list of facts vs. popular myths about Florida voting laws.
Myth 1: You can’t vote in Florida unless you have a driver’s license.
Fact: Florida accepts nine different forms of ID, including public assistance cards.
Myth 2: Absentee ballots are only counted in close elections.
Fact: Absentee ballots are the first ballots counted, verified and reported on election night.
Myth 3: If you don’t have an ID, you can’t cast a ballot.
Fact: If you can’t produce a valid form of ID, you may request a provisional ballots. By law, provisional ballots are reviewed by the supervisor of elections, a county commissioner and a judge within 48 hours of election day.
Myth 4: If you don’t receive your ballot by 7 p.m. on election day, you won’t be allowed to vote.
Fact: All voters in line at their proper polling place at 7 p.m. on election day will be allowed to vote, regardless of the length of the line.
Myth 5: Myth: Voters need a reason to request a mail ballot.
Fact: Florida is a no-excuse mail ballot state. Any qualified (registered) voter is permitted to vote by mail under Florida law. However, the law now requires a written request signed by the voter if the request is to mail the ballot to an address other than the legal residence or the mailing address on file. This provision does not apply for absent uniformed service voters or for overseas voters. (FS101.62 effective 01/01/14)
Myth 6: If your house is foreclosed on, you are not allowed to vote.
Fact: If you are still living in your house, regardless of whether or not is has been foreclosed on, you can vote using the address of the house. If you have left your house, you can still vote, but you must change your address, either before election day or at your polling place, to the place where you now live.
Myth 7: If you are homeless, you are not allowed to vote.
Fact: A homeless voter is eligible to vote as long as he or she intends to remain in the locale and has an effective mailing address or a place where he or she can receive messages. The voter is assigned a precinct based on the location of this mailing address or designated place to receive messages.
Myth 8: If you owe back child support or having outstanding warrants, you will be arrested if you attempt to vote.
Fact: The voter rolls in each polling place have no indicator of whether an individual owes child support or has any outstanding warrants. In addition, state law prohibits law enforcement officers from entering a polling place without being summoned by the poll workers.
Myth 9: If you do not have sufficient postage on your mail ballot return envelope, it will not be delivered.
Fact: Ballots that do not have sufficient postage will be delivered by the postal service and any postage due charges will be billed to the Elections Office.
Myth 10: If you don’t vote every two years, you lose your eligibility to vote.
Fact: If you do not vote and have not had contact with the elections office for a two year period, you will be mailed an address confirmation notice. If you return the notice, your registration remains active; if you do not return the notice or if it is returned to our office by the postal service as undeliverable, your registration will be put in an inactive status. Voters in an inactive status may still vote by simply confirming or updating their address at the polls or when they request a mail ballot. If your registration is in an inactive status and you do not vote in the next two General Elections (the November election in even-numbered years), then your registration is cancelled and you must re-register to be eligible to vote.
Myth 11: If you vote for too many candidates in a contest or don’t vote in a contest, your entire ballot won’t count.
Fact: If you do not vote for any candidates or vote for more candidates than are allowed in a contest, only that contest will be affected; any other contests in which you vote for the allowed number of candidates will be counted. In addition, when Early Voting or voting in your precinct, the tabulators will alert you that you have over-voted in a race, and offer you the chance to correct your ballot.
Provisional ballot information:
Provisional ballots are issued to voters in five situations:
- When a voter claims to be properly registered in the county and eligible to vote at the precinct or early voting site in the election, but the voter’s eligibility cannot be determined (Section 101.048, Florida Statutes).
- When an elector has been mailed an absentee ballot but desires to vote in person and he or she does not bring the ballot to the polling place or early voting location, and it cannot be determined whether the supervisor has received the elector’s absentee ballot (Section 101.69, Florida Statutes).
- When an elector fails to furnish the required identification (Section 101.043, Florida Statutes).
- When the polling time is extended by court or other order; these provisional ballots are segregated from all other provisional ballots (Section 101.049, Florida Statutes).
- When an elector from outside Brevard County attempts to change his or her legal residence at the polling place; this elector may not vote a regular ballot; however, such elector is entitled to vote a provisional ballot (Section 101.045, Florida Statutes).
Provisional ballots are not issued to a voter who is found to be in the incorrect polling place. These voters are directed to their correct polling place to vote.
A provisional ballot is voted the same as a regular ballot; however, after the voter marks his or her selections, the ballot is sealed in a certificate envelope instead of being fed into the tabulating machine. The affirmation printed on the certificate envelope requires the voter to give his or her name, date of birth, registered party affiliation, previous name (if changed), current residence and mailing addresses, Florida driver’s license/state ID number/last four digits of social security number, phone number (optional) and signature. There is also space on the envelope for the voter to add any additional information that might be helpful in determining his or her eligibility. A voter may also present written evidence of eligibility to the Supervisor of Elections by 5 PM on the second day after the election, although voters who are voting by provisional ballot due to lack of identification do not need to provide evidence of their identity, as this will be confirmed by comparing the signature on their certificate envelope with the signature in their registration record. After the voter fills out the certificate and seals the envelope, it is kept in a special container designated for provisional ballots.
After the period has passed for voters to provide supporting documentation, the provisional ballot certificates are individually examined to determine the voter’s eligibility. The county canvassing board reviews voter eligibility status and determines whether the provisional ballot should be counted. The vote totals from the ballots that are determined to be eligible to be counted are then obtained and added to the totals from election night. Ballots that are determined to be ineligible to be counted remain sealed in their certificate envelopes, and the envelopes are marked “rejected.”
Provisional ballot voters are given a stub which contains a serial number that corresponds to their provisional ballot envelope. This stub contains information on how to access the Supervisor of Elections Office free access system, which allows the voter to determine whether or not their provisional ballot was counted.